Don’t get caught out by new radio directive, warns expert

Retailers and distributors need to be careful they don’t get caught out by the new Radio Equipment Directive (RED), which comes into effect on June 13, an expert has warned.

RED replaces the Radio & Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive (R&TTED) and will require retailers, distributors and manufacturers to prove their products are compliant. Previously, the onus fell on just manufacturers to show compliance.

Alex Buchan (pictured), head of wireless technologies and principal RF engineer at the Digital Television Group (DTG), claimed that retailers could get caught out as current product lines with stock ordered after June 13 also need to comply with RED.

“If something is placed on the market after June 13, as in it’s put in the warehouse or the distributor buys it, then that has to comply with RED, even if it is the same product line that has been sold previously,” he explained.

However, Mr Buchan claimed that there was some ambiguity when it came to the definition of a product being “placed” on the market.

According to the Blue Guide on the implementation of EU product rules, which is available online, a product is placed on the market when:

  • It is made available for the first time on the Union market;
  • Supplied for distribution, consumption or use on the Union market in the course of a commercial activity, whether in return for payment or free of charge.

For manufacturers, RED means they need to comply with a new set of specifications in not just FM and DAB radio receivers, but also any “connected” products, which include those with Bluetooth and wi-fi.

There are currently two ways of demonstrating compliance in the UK. One is through a harmonised standard, which is a document setting out technical requirements products have to meet and is produced by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

A manufacturer can download the standard online and test their product against it and complete a report, which demonstrates that the checks have been completed.

However, if a particular specification hasn’t been harmonised – meaning that the standards have not been agreed upon and published in the ETSI official journal – then a manufacturer can’t self-declare.

In this instance, a manufacturer would need to have their products tested by a notified body, which is a Government-approved test facility, where it would be assessed on its compliance to RED.

“It’s quite a wide range of impacts,” said Mr Buchan. “You’ve got impacts on the manufacturers who have new specifications they have to meet. But it also impacts the retailer, as they’ve got to ensure their products are all compliant and have proof that they’ve seen the paperwork or that they know where the paperwork is.”

Despite Brexit looming, Mr Buchan explained that the UK would still need to keep RED, so compliance is not something to be ignored.

“The UK will most likely still use the same directives, even when we’re out of the EU,” he added. “Otherwise the UK would have to go in its own direction in terms of standards and then all you’re going to end up with is expensive equipment, and that’s not going to be good for anyone. All it will mean is we’ll have to stick with RED, but we’ll have very little influence over the future changes of the directive itself.”