Following increasing demand from both consumers and electronics companies, communications regulator Ofcom will decriminalise the use of low power FM transmitters in the UK on December 8th – providing they carry the EU approved CE mark.
Currently, the Wireless and Telegraphy Act of 1949, prohibits the use of the transmitters due to the possibility of interference with legitimate broadcasts. Those who argued against the law claimed that the range of the devices is so limited that in practice the chances of any interference happening is negligible. Though the new amendment will remove the need for a license to use devices bearing the CE logo, those that do not meet with the EU standards will remain illegal to use in the UK.
The chief usage of FM transmitters, such as the iTrip, is to wirelessly connect MP3 players and other audio devices to car radios, allowing the use of the in-car speakers. The decision to legalise them in the UK comes after heavy pressure from vendors such as Belkin and Griffin who have been lobbying against the law since 2003. Their argument gained parliamentary weight in 2004 from Don Foster MP. “Both Ofcom and Don Foster have been tremendously supportive of the law change,” said Steve Hawkins, managing director of Griffin’s UK distributor AM Micro. “It’s a fact of life that the wheels of broadcasting law turn so slowly, but we are overjoyed that our efforts have finally borne fruit.”
A full statement on the amendment can be found on Ofcom’s website.