Short Range Devices Information Sheet

20 July 2010

A Short Range Device (SRD) is a general term, applied to various radio devices designed to operate usually on a license exempt basis, over short range and at low power levels. This includes devices such as alarms, telemetry and telecommand devices, radio microphones, radio local area networks and anti-theft devices with maximum powers of up to 500 mW at VHF/UHF, as well as certain microwave/Doppler devices with maximum powers of up to 10 W.

For a full list of devices covered by this information sheet, and the parameters they must operate within, see the UK Radio Interface requirements IR2030.

SRDs are for terrestrial use only, unless stated otherwise in the IR2030. They normally operate on a non-protected, non-interference basis.

1. Some points to note

When selecting parameters for SRDs, manufacturers and users should pay particular attention to the potential for interference from other systems and services operating in the same or adjacent bands. This is especially important for SRD devices that may be used in safety-critical applications. SRDs cannot claim protection from other authorised services, SRD or, generally, from other spectrum users and must not cause harmful interference themselves.

The pattern of radio use is continuously evolving to reflect the many changes taking place in the radio environment, including the introduction of new applications and technologies. Ofcom may need to review spectrum allocations occasionally to reflect these changes; the position set out in this information sheet is subject to amendment following consultation with interested parties.

2. Why have most of these devices been exempted from licensing?

SRDs have little potential to cause interference to other radio users, provided they operate under the correct technical conditions. In keeping with Ofcom's general policy of deregulation and reducing unnecessary burdens, we have removed the need for most SRDs to be licensed.  The latest regulations governing the use of SRD can be found here.

Please note that the 'exemption' SI is reviewed periodically and is amended or reissued as required.

Some SRDs retain the need to be licensed, to give appropriate protection to other sensitive radio communications services. These include certain Radar Level Gauges, Ground Probing Radar and Radio Microphones. Details of these licensed SRD can be found at Licensed Short Range Devices.

3. UK Radio Interface Requirements

These interfaces, published as UK Radio Interface Requirements (IRs), specify the conditions you must meet to use the radio spectrum in the UK. IR2030 contains the requirements for SRDs' licensing and use in the specified frequency bands. Under the Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment R&TTE Directive, the UK must give the European Commission details of the radio interfaces it regulates.

4. Interference

Most SRD bands are shared with other radio services. If you receive interference from an authorised service that is operating within the terms of an appropriate licence or under licence exemption conditions, we cannot provide any protection; you or your SRD manufacturer must find a solution.

If you suspect an unauthorised transmission or you think an authorised service is operating outside the terms of its licence or licence exemption, you may complain to Ofcom.

The commonest cause of interference to SRDs from licensed radio services is the design of the SRD receiver. Before you complain to Ofcom about possible third-party interference, we strongly advise you to consult your device's supplier or manufacturer, to ensure that the device is designed to operate satisfactorily within the relevant band plan. If we investigate your complaint and find that your receiver has inadequate performance, you may be liable for any official costs incurred.

SRDs must not cause undue interference to other authorised services. If your SRD does cause undue interference, an Ofcom representative may order you to cease your operations.

Separate receivers should be well designed, taking into account other services that may share or be in adjacent bands. Please pay particular attention to spurious response rejection, selectivity, blocking and desensitisation.

The ETSI Standard EN 300 220 provides recommended limits.

5. Illegal devices

Ofcom publishes Licensing rules and regulations. These include a guide to the use of radio transmitters and the law. It is an offence to use a radio transmitter that has not been correctly authorised. Ofcom has the powers to take enforcement action against unlawful use of radiocommunications, including prosecution where necessary.

6. The R&TTE Directive, type approval and marking requirements

Since April 2000, the R&TTE Directive has removed the need for national type approval, replacing it with a conformity assessment regime based on manufacturers' self-declarations. Manufacturers, or other persons who place equipment on the market in the EU, take full responsibility for the conformance of their equipment.

The R&TTE Directive covers all equipment that uses the radio frequency spectrum, with a few exceptions. The main purpose of the Directive includes:

  • Conformity of a product with the requirements of the Directive.  Assessment of the conformity of a product with the requirements of the Directive is the responsibility of the manufacturer;
  • Radio equipment must effectively use the spectrum and not cause harmful interference. In exceptional cases the EU can introduce additional public interest requirements;
  • Obligation for manufacturers to inform the end user of intended use and limitations of use.  The Directive obliges manufacturers to inform users of the intended use and the limitations of use both on the packaging and in the manual.

The R&TTE Directive is in the process of being replaced by the Radio Equipment Directive (RED).

7. Testing and Development, and Temporary Use

If development work is needed before a piece of equipment is declared compliant, this may be carried out under the authority of a Non-Operational Technology Development licence.

8. European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)

ETSI is a European standards-making body, responsible for developing and publishing European Telecommunications Standards (ENs) and, where appropriate, its own ETSI Standards (ESs).

The European Commission has mandated ETSI to develop ENs as harmonised Standards for use under the R& TTE Directive. Equipment complying with these standards gives the manufacturer or importer the presumption of conformity to the R& TTE Directive's requirements.

Within ETSI's Electromagnetic and Radio Matters Group (ERM), a number of task groups (TGs) exist that develop standards for SRD. The main TGs of interest are:

  • TG11 (concerned with Wideband Data Systems)
  • TG 17 (concerned with radio microphones and cordless audio devices (among other issues)
  • TG 28 (concerned with generic SRD applications);
  • TG 30 (concerned with medical applications);
  • TG 34 (concerned with 'high-power' radio frequency identification systems).
  • TG SRR (concerned with Automotive Short Range Radar); and
  • TG TLPR (concerned with Tank Level Probing Radar);

9. European Commission

The European Commission (EC) have developed an EC Decision intended to harmonise the use of certain SRD within the European Union. This decision is 2006/ 771/EC (as amended). Apparatus that has lawfully been placed on the market or brought into use in the EU under the R&TTE Directive that complies with this EC Decision may be used in the UK. The European Commission routinely updates this decision. The 2013 revision of the decision is2013/752/EU.

10. European Standards

ENs and ESs can be obtained direct from the ETSI Publications Download Area or from the British Standards Institution BSI

11. Further information

Enquiries about information given in this information sheet should be addressed to SRD.Info@ofcom.org.uk