As of 8 April 2000 the R&TTE Directive is replacing the more than 1000 old national regulations to govern the marketing and use of Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment (R&TTE).
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 did bring, 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 is now 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 will 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.
· 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 harmonized 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 harmonized in the Community. The Directive doesn't harmonize 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 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.