Don't Be Left Seeing 'RED' with EU's New Radio Equipment Directive

As we enter the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), devices utilizing the radio frequency spectrum have evolved beyond radios, televisions, computers, and phones to include home appliances, medical devices, cars, and wearables, among other products. With the increased use of the radio spectrum in daily life, the European Union (EU) recently reviewed legislation governing radio and telecommunications terminal equipment, which resulted in the new Radio Equipment Directive (RED) 2014/53/EU. On June 13, 2016, new products must start complying with the requirements; legacy products will need full compliance by June 13, 2017.

Directive Overview

Much of the revised legislation includes updates to the definitions of what constitutes radio-using equipment. The terms “apparatus” and “telecommunication terminal equipment” have been removed, and the definition of “radio equipment” has been updated to include any electrical or electronic product which intentionally emits and/or receives radio waves for the purpose of communication and/or radiodetermination, either by design or addition of an accessory.

All receivers, including broadcast radio and TV equipment, now fall under the scope of the RED rule; cable and wiring equipment is no longer excluded. The scope of the directive does not apply to:

  • Equipment used exclusively for activities concerning public safety, defense, state security, or the state’s economic well-being
  • Amateur radio kits
  • Marine equipment
  • Airborne products, parts, and appliances (regulated under Article 3 of EC216/2008)
  • Custom-built kits used solely for R&D

Additional changes include the elimination of a lower limit for the radio spectrum frequency governed by the directive, as well as voltage limits for radio equipment. New definitions and provisions allow the European Commission to adopt “delegated acts” at a later date. Responsibilities are assigned to the various economic operators for a given product. Guidance regarding software, chargers, differing configurations, documentation, re-badging, and market surveillance are also included in the new directive.

Compliance

There are now three options for manufacturers to prove compliance with the essential requirements:

  • Via Annex II – Internal production control : In this scenario, the manufacturer undertakes the compilation of technical documentation, manufacturing processes, and CE marking, as well as issuing a declaration of conformity. No notified body involvement is needed.
  • Via Annex III – EU type examination : The manufacturer is responsible for technical documentation, internal production control, product CE marking, and issuing the declaration of conformity. A notified body is involved in examining the technical documentation to verify design, testing, and issuing of an EU type examination certificate.
  • Via Annex IV – FQA agreement with a Notified Body : The manufacturer comes into an agreement with a notified body for a full quality assurance program. The notified body audits the manufacturing process, quality systems, product design and testing, as well as taking on surveillance duties of the quality system. Additionally, the notified body oversees the CE marking and issuing the declaration of conformity. The notified body’s numerals appear on the product labeling, only under an FQA agreement with the manufacturer.

Responsibilities

As previously mentioned, the

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