Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

Short range, mass market

Article
The term "short-range device" (SRD) stands for a large variety of low power radio transmitters that use shared frequency bands on a licence-exempt basis. These transmitters are usually mass-produced devices that are used in numerous applications like alarm systems, door openers, medical implants, radio frequency identification (RFID), intelligent transport systems or local communication equipment (e.g. Wi-Fi routers). To ensure that SRDs can be used everywhere in Europe, harmonised spectrum access conditions are needed.
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Harmonisation for the internal market

For a fully-functioning EU internal market for SRDs, manufacturers and users need transparent and consistent rules on how to access radio spectrum. The European Commission Decision on harmonisation of the radio spectrum for use by short-range devices 2006/771/EC therefore sets out the harmonised frequency bands and technical usage conditions under which SRDs can be used across Europe. SRD equipment operating in these licence-exempt bands can be sold and used throughout the EU (“Class 1” equipment, according to the classification introduced under the Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive).

Applications that rely on the licence-exempt SRD bands benefit from easy access to the radio spectrum in the European Union because no spectrum licences are required. Harmonsing the SRD bands throughout the internal market also supports economies of scale for equipment manufacturers. However, using SRD bands always means that access to spectrum is shared with other users and/or other applications. In addition, SRD bands can only be used on a non-protected and non-interference basis: this means that SRDs have to protect themselves and to coexist with each other. The growing interest in SRD bands is an indication that emerging technologies are increasingly able to do these things.

Current estimates show that several million SRDs are sold in the EU each year. Due to rapid changes in technology. societal demands, and the emergence of new applications that use SRDs, regular updates of spectrum harmonisation conditions are necessary. To ensure emerging SRD applications are not hampered by a lack of harmonised spectrum, the Commission has issued a permanent mandate to the CEPT to keep the technical conditions in the SRD Decision under scrutiny and to propose additions in response to developments in the SRD market.

Current developments

SRDs play an increasingly important role in the daily life of citizens. Numerous applications - such as alarms, door openers, medical devices, and local communications equipment like Wi-Fi routers - rely on these low power radio transmitters. Due to growing demand for harmonised SRD bands for various applications, the European Commission regularly updates spectrum harmonisation conditions for SRDs. As part of this regular update process the technical annex of the SRD Decision was updated in 2008 (Decision 2008/432/EC), in 2009 (Decision 2009/381/EC), in 2010 (Decision 2010/368/EU),  in 2011 (Decision 2011/829/EU) and in 2013 (Decision 2013/752/EU).

The newly harmonised licence-exempt frequency bands can be used respectively by intelligent transport systems, vehicle radars and for non-specified purposes.

More information

  • Commission Implementing Decision 2013/752/EU of 11 December 2013 amending Decision 2006/771/EC on harmonisation of the radio spectrum for use by short-range devices and repealing Decision 2005/928/EC

  • European Commission Decision C(2011)9030 of 08 December 2011 amending Decision 2006/771/EC on harmonisation of the radio spectrum for use by short-range devices

  • European Commission Decision (2006/771/EC) of 9 November 2006 on harmonisation of the radio spectrum for use by short-range devices (SRD)

  • European Commission Directive (1999/5/EC) of 9 March 1999 on Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment and the Mutual Recognition of their Conformity

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