The effect of changes in the legal framework for telecommunications equipment

The telecommunications sector continues to evolve rapidly, and the same applies to the legal framework defining the conditions for placing telecommunications equipment on the market. So when there is a change in the legal framework, what is the effect in terms of equipment already sold, on store shelves or in production by manufacturers?

Of all the conditions for placing equipment on the market, only those with the greatest consequences and the most frequent will be dealt with. These are:

  • adaptation of the national frequency plan;
  • revision of harmonised standards.

Adaptation of the national frequency plan

More and more equipment is using the radio spectrum. New applications see the light of day and others become obsolete. The national frequency plan changes accordingly. It is concretised more precisely in the interface prescriptions. It is the manufacturer's responsibility (or that of the person responsible for placing the equipment on the market) to ensure that the frequencies used by its product are still assigned to this type of application. If there is a change, it must take all the adequate and necessary measures to comply with the change.

It should be noted that this type of change is rare and that in such a situation OFCOM provides for fairly long transition periods in order to give players on the market time to adapt.

Revision of harmonised standards

Harmonised standards translate the essential requirements into methods of measurement and limit values. They are drawn up by the European standardisation institutes (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI) under a mandate from the European Commission. Like any technical document, they are subject to change. It is the responsibility of all manufacturers (or that of the person responsible for placing the equipment on the market) to check every publication of the list of harmonised standards and to verify within it the validity of the harmonised standards which it has applied, in order to assess the conformity of its product. If a new version enters into force, the previous version will cease to be valid at the end of a transitional period. This period varies from case to case and must be used by the manufacturer either to carry out a new conformity assessment according to the new harmonised standard or to contact a conformity assessment body. At the end of the transition period, a conformity assessment based on the old harmonised standard without the intervention of a conformity body will no longer be valid.

The consequences for equipment

When there is a change in the conditions for placing equipment on the market, OFCOM will define the fate of equipment which conforms to the old conditions, taking into account the principle of proportionality. Here are some possible scenarios:

  • the equipment may continue to be used without restriction;
  • the equipment may continue to be used subject to certain restrictions;
  • the equipment may no longer be used;
  • the equipment may continue to be placed on the market;
  • the equipment may no longer be placed on the market if it does not meet the new conditions;
  • the equipment which has been sold may no longer be used or may even have to be recalled.

How to obtain information about changes?

The players in the market (manufacturers, importers, retailers) are responsible for keeping themselves informed of the legal framework and for reacting accordingly. To help them, OFCOM informs them regularly via an electronic "newsletter". This publication appears in French, German, Italian and English. This service is free and available to all.

Further information

Specialist staff
Last modification 20.04.2007

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