Saturday, October 04, 2008

RSGB Letter to UK Authorities Re:PLC

The Radio Society of Great Britain has sent a letter to the British Ofcom regarding the Society's perception of a weak response on the dire matter of Power Line Communications.

While RSGB has expressed considerable concern over strong HF interference caused by the wide deployment of home Ethernet power line adapters, Ofcom has spent two years making vague excuses based on a legal issue regarding the European Union.

As anyone who has been following the situation knows, politicians worldwide have been reluctant to rule decisively in PLC matters. Generally, they have preferred to see what the marketplace does, rather than be perceived as against "new technology." This has led to the approval by Germany of home computer networking gear that is clearly in violation of ITU regulations regarding access to spectrum. Further, these units do not generally meet their claimed specs as submitted for CE certification. These specs come from a self-test in a best-case situation which is unlikely to be replicated in the real world.

Here is a portion of the RSGB letter as published on the Society web site:

The RSGB has recently received a reply from Ofcom in response to a PLT complaint made almost two years ago. The Society has in turn expressed its’ dismay at the contents of this letter and has responded accordingly with a letter from the President. The following edited extract will hopefully show that the Society is not about to roll over and accept what amounts to “shoddy service” from the regulator -

“The Radio Society of Great Britain understands that as the product in question was declared compliant in Germany, Ofcom extended the usual courtesy of asking BNetzA to investigate as the home authority in the first instance. You say that BNetzA has investigated but decided not to take enforcement action but you have given no reasons. The implication is that you will not be taking any further action. However as the product is available from UK outlets we do request that you continue to investigate our complaint of non-compliance. You will know that if your investigations confirm the non-compliance, the fact that the German authorities have chosen not to take enforcement action is not a bar to the UK doing so under the principle of national subsidiarity. The integrity of New Approach Directives is in fact dependent on Member States acting where non-compliance is found. The procedure under Article 10 of the EMC Directive or Article 9 of the RTTE Directive provides the method by which Member States must notify the Commission of such independent action.

The Society submitted a detailed complaint case nearly two years ago and is still awaiting positive action by the UK regulatory authorities. You will appreciate that there is considerable frustration among HF radio users about this matter, many of whom are members of the RSGB. This delay, attributed to restructuring, is frankly deplorable, unprofessional and certainly does not reflect well on the neutrality of the administration or the stated Statutory Duty of “Ensuring the optimal use of the electro-magnetic spectrum”. We believe the recent increase in reported incidents of interference received from licensed radio amateurs and short-wave broadcast listeners alike and attributed to units from various manufacturers represents only a small percentage of those suffering with this problem, with the majority not yet aware of what is causing the harmful interference to their reception.
It is understood a number of sufferers have already written to their MPs and MEPs in respect to this problem and no doubt these letters will reach your desk in due course. In the meantime we look forward to hearing of the results of your investigations as referred to above and the pursuance of the “enforcement policy in line with stakeholders needs””.