Supervising the use of frequencies and the radio device market in 2015

FICORA receives a large number of notifications concerning problems with the use of radio systems. If it is assessed on the basis of notifications that a problem may be caused by another radio device or electrical appliance, FICORA starts to investigate the matter as radio interference. The majority of radio interference cases require field work. For this purpose, FICORA has three measurement vehicles and portable measurement equipment. In addition, fixed remotely controlled monitoring receivers provide assistance.

Investigation and elimination of radio interference

In 2015, FICORA investigated 140 reported cases of radio interference, half of which concerned TV reception or mobile networks. The majority of the interference in mobile networks was caused by faulty television antenna amplifiers in households. Five investigation requests were sent to the police concerning unauthorised repeaters causing interference in mobile networks, and two investigation requests were sent to installation companies. Of the solved cases of radio interference, ten concerned interference with emergency and safety traffic, and seven were processed as urgent cases. Electrical appliances caused 15 per cent of all interference. Approximately 40 per cent of the causes of radio interference remain unsolved, or the interference disappeared by itself.

Object (pcs) Cause (pcs)
Terrestrial TV 40 2
Mobile networks 33 12
SRD applications 8 1
Radio amateur devices 15 4
Professional mobile radio systems (PMR) 11 6
FM radio 12 3
Aviation radio systems 3 3
Navigation systems and radiolocation (civil) 1 1
Satellite services 0
Maritime radio systems 6 2
Fixed service 8 5
Interference source unknown
Other than radio devices (e.g. electric appliances) 33
Other radio devices 3 1
Illegal use of radio equipment
Total 140 140

Figure: Objects and causes of radio interference investigated by FICORA in 2015

Supervision of the use of frequencies

At international sporting events, the number of frequency users is high. Teams use radiotelephones to communicate within the team, whereas representatives of the media use frequencies, for example, to produce their programmes and distribute TV broadcasts. FICORA's experts inspect all radio devices carried to the event area and their radio licences in order to verify that they operate at the correct frequency. During events, the use of frequencies is monitored in order to quickly eliminate any disturbances. In 2015, the use of frequencies was controlled and supervised at four internationally televised sporting events: the Lahti Ski Games, Biathlon World Championships in Kontiolahti, Neste Oil Rally and Ruka Nordic World Cup.

The number of voice radio transmitters inspected during 2015 continued to be high (54 in total). Compliance with radio licence terms and conditions concerning voice radio transmitters is also monitored using random inspections. Problems have been identified, in particular, in frequency deviations of voice radio transmitters, and radio operators have been asked to investigate and solve these problems.

Secured TV reception

FICORA processes a large number of queries concerning problems in TV reception. In 2015, significant causes of problems continued to be 800 MHz base stations and wind turbines. After investigations conducted by the frequency administration, it was revealed that problems in TV reception were often caused by customers having inadequate antenna systems. Only a small number of the reported problems were caused by radio interference or shadow areas.

FICORA ensures that everyone in Finland is able to receive the television services defined in the licence conditions by monitoring the coverage obligations set for network operators and programming licence holders. A network operator of multiplexes A, B and C is obliged to construct a network for a shadow area that affects more than 50 persons and has a diameter of 20 km.

FICORA has investigated availability problems concerning eight different areas as part of the supervision of the coverage obligations of operators, with wind turbines causing problems in four of these areas. FICORA has processed dozens of reception problems or suspected cases of radio interference through advisory work or fieldwork. It has also forwarded queries to telecom operators for investigation on the basis of their obligations. In addition, FICORA made sure that in cases where a shadow area only concerns individual households, the television signal should be made available by an alternative means of distribution, usually by using satellite reception. FICORA has supervised the Free Frequency Help service set up to eliminate disruptions caused by LTE networks in the 800 MHz frequency range. In 2015, the service eliminated more than 10,000 disturbances in TV reception.

To solve problems caused by wind turbines, FICORA has entered into discussions with different ministries, telecom operators and wind power companies. Because no authority has any jurisdiction to settle problems between wind turbines and radio networks, FICORA set up a working group that seeks solutions by means of self-regulation. The term of office of the working group will end on 30 April 2016.

According to FICORA's estimate, approximately half of reception antennas in households are insufficient. Resolving TV reception problems is made significantly more difficult by the consumers being unaware of the requirements set for antenna systems and the responsibilities of households. In this respect, FICORA has paid attention, in its supervisory activities, to the advisory obligation of TV operators and its fulfilment.

Market supervision of radio equipment

The legislation on radio equipment will be amended this year because the new Radio Equipment Directive will come into force nationally in June 2016. FICORA has actively participated in preparing the amended legislation, i.e. the Information Security Code.

The compliance of radio equipment with governing requirements was supervised in 2015 through inspections and measurements. FICORA also took part in a European supervisory campaign to identify the compliance of remotely piloted planes and helicopters. FICORA also carried out inspections and supervisory activities in physical and online shops. FICORA identified new radio devices and trends by taking part in six exhibitions. It also performed inspections as a result of reports received and cases of radio interference that it had investigated.

In 2015, FICORA inspected a total of 194 devices. Defects in documents or markings were identified in approximately 38 per cent of all devices inspected. The majority of these were caused by defects in the Declaration of Conformity delivered with the device or the lack of the specific document in the sales package. The package or operating instructions of a device must also include information about the countries or geographic areas in which the device is intended to be used. These defects were identified in 10 per cent of all devices. CE markings were missing from approximately 4 per cent of all inspected devices.

In 2015, five radio devices were measured, with all measured devices being in compliance with their requirements. FICORA also discovered radio devices designed for the US market available on the Finnish market. These operate at too high a power or at incorrect frequencies in Europe. On the basis of its investigations, FICORA imposed sales bans on non-compliant devices.

This article is a part of FICORA's Communications Sector Review 1/2016.

Key words: Spectrum , Articles , Reviews , Statistics

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