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Radio and telecommunications terminal equipment (R&TTE)

Introduction to the R&TTE Directive

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The market for R&TTE equipment exceeds 30 B€ and is undergoing rapid growth. It was regulated through an EU Directive (98/13/EC) and more than 1000 national approval regulations. As of 8 April 2000, the R&TTE Directive български (bg) czech (cs) dansk (da) Deutsch (de) eesti (et) ελληνικά (el) español (es) Français (fr) Gaeilge (ga) hrvatski (hr) italiano (it) latviešu (lv) lietuvių (lt) magyar (hu) Malti (mt) Nederlands (nl) polski (pl) português (pt) română (ro) slovenčina (sk) slovenščina (sl) suomi (fi) svenska (sv) replaces these regulations and governs the marketing and use of R&TTE equipment.

With the exception of a few categories of equipment, the Directive covers all equipment, which uses the radio frequency spectrum. It also covers all terminal equipment attached to public telecommunication networks. Typical products, which are covered by the Directive, are:

  • Radio terminals: GSM handsets.
  • Other radio equipment: GSM base stations, car-door openers and other short range radio devices.
  • Fixed network terminal equipment: normal analogue telephones, ISDN terminals, cable and PC modems.

The main changes which this Directive brings, compared to the old regimes, are:

  • Introduction of manufacturers' declaration of conformity

Assessment of the conformity of a product with the requirements of the Directive becomes a responsibility for the manufacturer. He therefore does not further need to obtain an approval certificate from an official body after having passed tests in a legally recognized laboratory.

  • Lower requirements

Terminal access requirements have been removed: fixed network terminal equipment therefore only needs to comply with electrical safety and electromagnetic compatibility requirements. Radio equipment needs to effectively use the spectrum and not cause harmful interference. In exceptional cases the EU can introduce additional public interest requirements. This is for the time being only foreseen for safety critical radio equipment on sea and inland waterway vessels.

  • New approach to standards

Requirements are legal, not technical. Standards continue to play a prominent role in determining whether a product complies with the legal requirements. When standards are however not available or not appropriate, a manufacturer still has a route to market. He however needs to demonstrate more extensively how the requirements of the Directive were met in his technical file.

  • Scope: complete coverage of the sector

The Directive replaces national regimes. Any problems caused by the fact that the frequency spectrum in the Community is not fully harmonised are handled through specific provisions in the Directive.

  • Obligation for network operators to publish their interfaces

The Directive obliges operators of public telecommunications services to publish the characteristics of their interfaces, thereby allowing any manufacturer to construct terminal equipment to be attached to that network.

  • Obligation for Member States to publish the rules to access the radio frequency spectrum

The radio frequency spectrum is not fully harmonised in the Community. The Directive doesn't harmonise the spectrum. It is therefore of major interest to manufacturers to be fully aware of national differences in allocation and usage. Member States therefore are committed to publish such details allowing manufacturers to build products capable of operating in as large a market as possible.

  • Obligation for Manufacturers to inform the end user of intended use and limitations of use

The Directive obliges manufacturers to in extenso inform users of the intended use and the limitations of use both on the packaging and in the manual. This means that the manufacturer needs to inform the user on the networks for which a terminal has been designed and communicate clearly for which of the radio spectra of the Member States it has been designed.

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