|European Union: Broadband Fixed Wireless Access |
A. CURRENT GOVERNMENT POLICY GOVERNING ACCESS TO THE WORLDWIDE FIXED WIRELESS ACCESS BAND (3.4 TO 3.7GHZ, LMDS (28-31 GHZ) AND UNLICENSED BANDS
European Cooperation on Radio Frequencies
Radio frequencies within the European Union (EU) are assigned and managed by national governments. The frequencies designated are generally within band allocations that have been agreed at international level, through the ITU’s twice yearly World Radiocommunications Conferences, and at the regional level, through European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT – French acronym).
Although the European Union does not allocate spectrum, it is increasingly involved in trying to ensure that allocation by individual Member States and coordinated allocation through CEPT takes account of EU policy objectives. One of those objectives, which falls within the eEurope 2005 Action Plan, is to increase the availability of broadband networks. Member States meeting at the European Council in March 2002 stressed the importance of developing multiple broadband access platforms including wireless. A recent Commission Communication (April 2003), which set out EU objectives for the WRC 2003, stressed support for alternative broadband infrastructure platforms and argued for a globally harmonized status for radio local area networks
The 2002 Radio Spectrum Decision (676/2002/EC), which is part of the EU’s new regulatory framework for electronic communications, should make it easier for the Commission to help coordinate Member State spectrum policy. The Decision includes the setting up of a Radio Spectrum Committee (RSC) that will assist the Commission in the development and adoption of technical implementing measures aimed at ensuring harmonised conditions for the availability and efficient use of radio spectrum. CEPT’s 44 member countries already provide information with regards to frequency allocation thorough the European Radiocommunication Office’s Frequency Information System – EFIS - http://www.efis.dk
EU wide rules on Licensing
Member States’ licensing policies are constrained by EU wide rules on “Authorizations”. Article 5 of the new Authorization Directive (2002/20EC) requires EU countries, where possible, not to require specific licenses for frequency use but to include the conditions of use in general authorizations. In advance of the implementation deadline for the new Directive (25 July 2003), the Commission issued a Recommendation encouraging Member States not to require specific licenses for the provision of public R-LAN access in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. In the same Recommendation the Commission reminded Member States that they should not restrict the choice of R-LAN equipment as long as it meets the Essential Requirements set out in the Radio and Terminal Communications Equipment Directive (1999/5/EC) – see below.
B. REGULATIONS, CERTIFICATION PROCEDURES AND IMPORT DUTIES
The Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Directive
Radio equipment sold in the EU needs to be CE marked. The CE mark is not a quality label but a signal from the manufacturer that his product conforms to the mandatory requirements set out in the EU’s Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Directive (R&TTE 1999/5/EC). These so called Essential Requirements relate to electrical safety, electromagnetic compatibility and radio frequency allocation. For the first two the R&TTE Directive draws from the existing Low Voltage and Electro Magnetic Compatibility Directives. The different ways a manufacturer can show that his product conforms with these requirements are detailed in the R&TTE Directive’s annexes. Whichever compliance route is chosen, the person placing the equipment on the market is responsible for its conformity with the Directive’s essential requirements.
The R&TTE Directive applies to all types of equipment intended for connection to telecommunications networks and to a wide range of radio equipment. For many products covered by the Directive the manufacturer can carry out his own assessment and self declare his product’s conformity with the requirements. One means of demonstrating conformity is by building the equipment to standard specifications developed by the European Standards Organizations– ETSI, CEN and CENELEC.
For most radio equipment the manufacturer will require the services of a Notified Body (accredited test laboratory). Depending on the conformity assessment route chosen by the manufacturer the Notified Body’s role can range from the identification of essential radio test suites, to the assessment of a manufacturers’ case for his product’s conformity, or the evaluation and inspection of his full quality assurance system.
If a US manufacturer does require these types of services to certify his radio product for the EU market he can choose to use an EU accredited U.S. based test laboratory (Conformity Assessment Body). This arrangement was made possible by the EU-US MRA agreement for R&TTE that establishes that U.S. equipment can be tested and certified to EU standards by U.S. based labs.
The R&TTE Directive has been in force since 2000 and has greatly simplified the procedures for introducing radio products into the EU market by switching the emphasis from type approval to self-declaration and market surveillance. Once a CE mark is secured the product is free to enter any market within the EU. Nevertheless if the equipment uses a frequency that has not been harmonised throughout the EU then individual national radio authorities must be notified prior to placing the product on the market.
Radio are categorized as either Class I or Class II. The first applies to radio equipment whose use is harmonized throughout the EU Member states and the second to equipment which is not. All Class II equipment must be marked with an alert symbol and an equipment class identifier. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise manages an R&TTE Directive website that includes lists of Class I equipment, Notified Bodies, European Harmonised Standards, and European Harmonised frequencies, as well as the full text of the Directive.
The new Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE - 2002/96/EC) must be implemented into national law by August 2003 and will affect a number of product categories including telecommunications equipment. It is designed to tackle the electrical and electronic equipment waste by increasing recycling requirements and making producers responsible for the recycling. The WEEE is complemented by a Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (ROHS - 2002/95/EC) that will ban the use of hazardous products including lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, and flame-retardant PBBs and PBDEs.
Since the completion of the internal market, goods can circulate freely between EU Member States. The 'Common Customs Tariff' (CCT) therefore applies to the import of goods across the external borders of the EU. As a signatory to the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement, the EU committed itself to eliminating tariffs on a wide range of IT products including software, electronic components and networking and telecom equipment by 2000. The TARIC dbase gives full tariff details for all product categories
This response was prepared by the U.S. Mission to the European Union, Brussels in June 2003. For further clarification please contact:
U.S. Embassy, Vienna