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UK sets iTrip FM transmitter legalisation date

Gadgets must still meet CE-set specs

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Griffin Technology's iTrip and other iPod-oriented FM transmitters will become legal on 8 December, the UK's wireless regulator, Ofcom, has confirmed. On that date, extensions to the Wireless Telegraphy Act, which currently bans the use of iTrip-like devices, will be updated for the iPod era.

There's a catch: the only such devices which will be legal to use after that date will be those that carry the CE mark. Ofcom said it had reached an agreement with similar bodies across Europe to define a set of specifications low-power FM transmitters must adhere to to be granted a CE mark.

How many existing products will meet the specifications remains to be seen, but once the full details of the regulations are published vendors will be able to make any necessary changes.

Use of the iTrip is currently illegal in the UK because it contravenes the terms of the 1949 Wireless Telegraphy Act, which guarantees spectrum licence holders unobstructed access to their favoured frequencies. Since the FM band on which the iTrip operates is licensed spectrum, Ofcom has had to ban the gadgets becuase however small their range they impinge upon someone's licensed property.

The 2003 Wireless Telegraphy Exemption Regulations Act opened up an opportunity for Ofcom to tweak elements of the 1949 Act, and given the clear consumer interest in the use of devices like the iTrip, it has been pursuing a legalisation policy since then. Alas, the bureaucratic wheels grind exceeding slow, largely because Ofcom has been consulting with licensees and other interested parties on this and other suggested exemptions. ®

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