Introduction to GPR equipment standards and user's licensing

For many small enterprises there is a mystique regarding the regulations which govern the sale and use of GPR/WPR in many countries throughout the world.

In the European Union (EU) the use of GPR/WPR is  controlled by directives issued by the European Commission (EC) and the Government/National radio administrations, who control the use of GPR/WPR by setting conditions for use through their licensing regulations. Directives are legal instruments used by the EC to regulate/ harmonise and create a more open market in the European Union (EU). The Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment (R&TTE) directive 1999/5/EC applies to GPR/WPR equipment. This directive is known as a new approach directive, which unlike the older type of directives allows self declaration to demonstrate conformity to the essential requirements, which are set out in article 3 of this directive (see GPR equipment standards). Demonstration of compliance to this directive is a legal requirement, which then allows the manufacturer or his authorised representative to place the product on the market for sale. This ruling applies to manufacturers/suppliers both within the EU or external to the EU.

Although the R&TTE directive allows the product to be placed on the market for sale, it does not automatically allow use of the equipment, and a national licence is often required before the equipment can be used (see licensing rules).

In other parts of the world there are many differing approaches, ranging from very formal technical approval and licensing conditions to no specific rules. For example in the USA self declaration is used to demonstrate compliance to the FCC regulations, and in Canada a similar approach is also used for compliance with the DOT regulations.

It is also interesting to note that many other countries around the world accept the technical requirements set out in the Standards produced by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)

Please find below a list of frequently asked questions

1. Why does GPR require regulation?

All types of electrical and electronic equipment sold within European Union countries are subject to regulation. The general principle is that if essential operation requires movement of electrons then the equipment is regulated.

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EuroGPR's role in GPR radio licensing and standards

The operators of all type of equipment have the responsibility to ensure that they comply with all relevant legislation. For equipments potentially radiating electromagnetic signals radio licensing and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) are important. GPR falls into this category but the pulsed nature of the signals employed does not fit any established structure for radio licensing structure. In principle GPR operation in Europe has, and will continue to be unlawful in many countries, until new regulations negotiated by EuroGPR come into effect, anticipated to be at the end of 2005.

In the UK matters came to a head some time ago with Radiocommunications Agency, now Ofcom staff, threatening to seize and destroy equipments, and prosecute users, their managers, directors or Vice Chancellors, as appropriate. Penalties include imprisonment. Fortunately commonsense prevailed and EuroGPR was able to negotiate a way through the situation. The process began with many radars being made available for measurement at the Whyteleafe Laboratories. The results provided some reassurance and a waiver was granted allowing EuroGPR members to continue using equipments generally of the type measured providing that they were used in accordance with EuroGPR’s Code of Practice, that a log was kept of the date, place and time of use and that EuroGPR sought to negotiate effective licensing regulations for GPR.

This waiver was granted only to EuroGPR members; generally all other GPR use is unlawful. Operation is allowed under experimental licenses, but not for commercial purposes, and these are negotiated for one specified location only.

The Code of Practice addresses concerns that GPR systems may be used irresponsibly and cause interference to aircraft, defence and security systems. This remains a concern of licensing authorities and all members are expected to adhere to the Code at all times.

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EuroGPR licensing activities

Following EuroGPR participation to the 52nd meeting of the Short Range Device Maintenance Group (SRDMG) of CEPT (Mainz, Germany 6th-8th April 2011), the Association is satisfied with the current licensing regulations in Europe as specified by ECC/DEC/(06)08. A summary of the meeting and relevant documentation is available in the Meetings diary.

For an up-to-date summary of the current licensing situation in Europe and the relevant documentation, please refer to the Licensing rules section.

Although the Association wishes that more CEPT member states will explicitly adopt the ECC/DEC/(06)08, it believes there is no scope at present to further pursue activities in this domain. Nevertheless, the Association chairman will constitute a committee formed by all EuroGPR manufacturer's members to continuously monitor the licensing issue in Europe and elsewhere should any action be beneficial the future.