New rules for placing telecommunications installations on the market
Since 13 June 2016, manufacturers and distributors of telecommunications installations will have to provide more information on their products. The entry into force on this date of the new European regulations and the revision of the Telecommunications Installations Ordinance (TIO) harmonises Swiss law with the new European regulations. Thus it will no longer be possible to sell an installation in Switzerland or Europe which cannot be used there.
Since mid-June, purchasers of radio installation will have the assurance that they will be able to use their equipment at least in Switzerland or in one of the EU countries and the European Economic Area (EEA). In effect, all other installations will be banned from the market.
In addition, all broadcast receivers (e.g. a USW receiver), as all radio installations using frequencies below 9 KHz (e.g. automatic lawn mowers) henceforth fall within the scope of the TIO. On the other hand, line-connected telecommunications installations (e.g. a telephone connected by wire to the telephone network) is exempt from these regulations since they are regarded as simple electrical appliances subjected to the provisions of the ordinances on low voltage products (OELVP) and electromagnetic compatibility (OEMC).
The new legislation also introduces some simplifications: the notification procedure for the radio installations which use frequency bands which are not harmonised at the international level is ended. Moreover, the warning which had to accompany the marking of the radio installation is no longer required.
From now on, the essential requirements relating to the use of the spectrum require any radio installation to both effectively use and support the efficient use of radio spectrum in order to avoid interferences. This tightening of the provisions essentially relates to the receivers of these installations.
Furthermore, OFCOM will be able to follow European practice and subject certain categories of installations to two new essential requirements:
- the obligation to operate with specific accessories, in particular universal chargers;
- the obligation to guarantee that software can be installed on a radio installation only when the conformity of the combination of the installation and the software is demonstrated.
As of now, the European Telecommunications Standardisation Institute (ETSI) is working hard to harmonise its technical standards with the new legislation. As with the previous editions, the new versions will be also be published by OFCOM.
To assess the conformity of an installation, a manufacturer can choose between three procedures.
- It can carry out internal production control, as previously.
- It can also arrange to have the equipment type approved by an independent body. If the technical documentation which it has provided demonstrates that the essential requirements are met, it receives a type approval certificate. It must then indicate the name of the institution which carried out the assessment in its declaration of conformity. If a certificate is refused, the other conformity assessment bodies are informed to prevent a manufacturer from submitting the same product to them.
- It can have its quality system certified for the design, manufacture, final inspection and testing of radio installations by a conformity assessment body.
These three procedures also apply to the assessment of conformity with the requirements concerning electrical safety, health and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). As regards the assessment of the spectrum use and the additional essential requirements, the first option is possible only if the manufacturer applies harmonised standards which provide a presumption of conformity.
Furthermore, the declaration of conformity - or a folder which includes several of these documents - must from now on refer to all the legislation which relates to the product and which requires such a declaration.
Whatever its choice in relation to establishing the declaration of conformity, the installation manufacturer must from now on supplement the technical documentation with an analysis and an assessment of the risks related to electromagnetic compatibility. CENELEC (the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation) has developed harmonised standards which simplify this analysis and assessment.
The procedure also provides for a follow-up obligation. On the one hand, the manufacturer must inform the conformity assessment body of any change made to the product. On the other hand, the body must notify any repercussion on technological evolution in the technical standards or in the harmonised standards which might involve re-assessment of the product's conformity.
For the conformity mark, the manufacturer may choose between the Swiss mark or its European equivalent.
If it chooses the Swiss variant, the indications in the declaration of conformity must refer at the national legal basis (TIO; CC 784.101.2). If it chooses the European mark, it will then refer to the harmonisation legislation of the EU (EU Directive; 2014/53/EU).
For reasons of traceability, the name and address of the manufacturer plus, where applicable, those of the importer must be applied to installations placed on the market in Switzerland. The user will also find more information on precautions related to use, the technical characteristics and any restrictions. This information must be written in a manner which is understandable to users and at least in the official language of the location where the product is put on sale.
The new legislation identifies four economic players: the manufacturer, the authorised representative, the importer and the dealer. It assigns different responsibilities to each of them. It is up to the manufacturer to guarantee the conformity of the products which it places on the market. It can delegate part of the procedure to an authorised representative. The importer must ensure that the manufacturer has in fact fulfilled all the conditions which enable it to place its equipment on the market. Finally, the dealer must ensure that the upstream operators have fulfilled their obligations.
All the economic operators must be able to identify the operator before or after them in the supply chain. They are also obliged to collaborate with OFCOM within the framework of market surveillance and to take measures themselves if they suspect that the product which they are placing on the market is not in conformity.
In view of the importance of the changes, a transitional period until 12 June 2017 permits products which are in conformity with the new or old legislation to be placed on the market. It will be possible for products which were placed on the market before 13 June 2017 in accordance with the old legislation to continue to be marketed in Switzerland after this date.
The EU will shortly publish a guide to the application of the TIO Directive (2014/53/EU). As for its "Blue Guide", this provides more information on the marketing of products.