Telecommunications equipment (wired or wireless applications) is an indispensable working tool, particularly for security and transport services but increasingly for individuals too. For the security of all, OFCOM carries out checks on equipment which is available on the market (post-marketing checks). The aim of these checks is primarily:
- to ensure healthy competition between traders,
- to prevent the placing on the market of equipment which is not in conformity,
- to prevent interference.
Traders who sell telecommunications equipment which is in conformity must not be disadvantaged compared with those who place on the market equipment which is not in conformity and which is often cheaper. Equipment which is not in conformity may cause problems for third persons or the user himself. This is the case, for example, of a remote-control garage door which stays closed or an ambulance which suffers interference with its communication with a hospital.
The rules of equipment conformity are defined at the European level with the participation of OFCOM. Market surveillance is aimed at ensuring that these rules are obeyed. An item of telecommunications equipment is in conformity and may be marketed only if it meets the following essential requirements:
- efficient use of the frequency spectrum: the equipment must use the part of the spectrum which is necessary for communication but not more,
- protection of health and electrical safety: the user must be able to connect equipment without putting his life at risk;
- electromagnetic compatibility: the user must be able to operate equipment without suffering harmful interference, e.g. watching television without interference.
Alongside these essential requirements, telecommunications equipment must also comply with other (formal) rules:
- it must pass a conformity evaluation procedure: the manufacturer verifies, by means of regular tests, that the equipment complies with the requirements,
- it must have a technical documentation established by the manufacturer: it notably contains proof of conformity,
- it must be accompanied by a declaration of conformity: a written document from the manufacturer to the effect that the equipment complies with the requirements,
- it must be provided with information for the user: information on the intended use of the equipment and on the existence of restrictions and eventual prohibitions on use,
- it must have the following features: the equipment must be identifiable by easily legible indications such as the model, the manufacturer's name and the serial number.