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Author Topic: RF in Europe  (Read 366 times)

John Heinz

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RF in Europe
« on: July 09, 2014, 07:06:51 pm »

Hello All, I have a tour this fall that goes to Europe for a few weeks. We will be in the UK, France, Amsterdam, Norway and Germany. I'd like to bring my own RF mics over. Other than a voltage difference are there any other rules, regulations, bandwidth limitations or permits I should be aware of ?

John Heinz
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Mac Kerr

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Re: RF in Europe
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2014, 07:21:24 pm »

Hello All, I have a tour this fall that goes to Europe for a few weeks. We will be in the UK, France, Amsterdam, Norway and Germany. I'd like to bring my own RF mics over. Other than a voltage difference are there any other rules, regulations, bandwidth limitations or permits I should be aware of ?

John Heinz

Leave your mics at home. The RF rules in Europe are stricter, and better enforced. They are also different for each country. Get a local provider who can arrange the licenses for you and provide the right gear for each country.

Mac
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Pete Erskine

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Re: RF in Europe
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2014, 08:58:52 pm »

Other than a voltage difference are there any other rules, regulations, bandwidth limitations or permits I should be aware of ?

I have done 2 musical tours in Europe with Bon Jovi and Tim McGraw/Faith Hill.  The equipment came from Clair Broadcast in the USA.

In each country (we covered over 16) the rules were substantially different.  Ranging from you're on you own to having to pay for each license which were severely vetted.  In each case the responsibility lay with the local promoter and as such we had not much to worry about. 

The list of our equipment and bands was sent in advance to the promoters and occasionally we provided a list of proposed frequencies.  In the end it was not so much what exact frequencies we were using but the number of frequencies in use.

Great Britain and Germany were the most strict.

Be careful about your walkie talkie supplier.  Be sure they have gotten the correct licenses for Europe.  Radios definitely need licensing in most countries.

On one tour the frequencies were incorrectly selected and the audio channel interfered with the city wide fire department repeater system.  The show took a lot of flak and we had to jump through hoops even for the UHF bands after that.

TV channels are mostly 8 mHz PAL modulation wide unlike the US which is 6 mHz NTSC Modulation.

I used my (Channel guide planner) to monitor the frequencies I could use.  It switches from 6 to 8 mHz.  My coordination was done with IAS set to The TV standard for the city I was in.  PAL has a couple of different standards.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 09:07:44 pm by Pete Erskine »
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Kieran Walsh

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Re: RF in Europe
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2014, 02:29:35 am »

Having done enough time as a "local provider" (albeit a rather large one) for RF in Europe for touring acts (and the odd NFL match) I would be happy to give the following information (please bear in mind that the UK system hasn't changed, but other countries may have improved since I stopped doing this full time 4 years ago).

The UK and Germany probably have the strictest regulations

First the UK - actually nowhere near as bad as it may at first appear.

The UK uses legislation dating from 1949, which was substantially revised in 2006 to manage this kind of activity.

Having said all this- you may still wish to use a local provider to coordinate licenses on your behalf (I did a lot of this for US acts)... cant speak for specific cases... but Macs advice to maybe pick up generic stock locally could cause a lot less hassle if you are touring throughout Europe, as the rules, and helpfulness... and in some cases actual spectrum availability (Italy) vary to a frightening extent.

One note on Germany... beware... Germany are a federal nation... the individual states have their own rules, and the federal communications agency don't always tell you this. I hope that it has improved but my experience was that licensing was painfully expensive, my carefully planned plots for (often very complex shows) were ignored by the authorities, and totally unsuitable plots were given... they do actually send someone down to your show - a kind of "radio policeman" in some states... probably explains the huge cost... and often times the RF Cop would then revert to the carefully worked out touring plan from the "officially issued" license (which they can do) as the calculated plan kind of (surprise) actually worked ;)

Hope I am wrong now about the last part... but moreso hope this helps some people catch some more zzzs in the bus rather than stressing about the wonderful world of Euro RF regulation. 

The UK government has a body that is called oFcom - which is the communications regulator. oFcom devolved the day to day running of "pmse" spectrum to an outside agency, this was formerly known as the JFMG, and is now managed by arquiva who are a communications specialist (some broadcast people may have run into them when working on satellite link projects for events). Arquiva took on the old team from JFMG who are some of the most dedicated civil servants I have worked with. The coordination team really do actually care about delivering events and the people on that team have a serious level of technical knowledge which they will share if you are nice enough to phone or email them.

The "rules" are posed in a way that can be offputting in terms of syntax however.
The wireless telegraphy act specifically prohibits all use of radio in the UK...
Pretty draconian term I know.... a blunt way of them saying "we own the spectrum... so you tell us what you want to do with the spectrum and we'll let you know if we will let you do it". As I said before the guys administering this are very sympathetic to this and it is really run more as a beneficent dictatorship. The main reason for this prohibition is so that you don't mess up the activities of others who are already trying to use the same spectrum.

A "shared license" is available to purchase from their website - this entitles you to work on a set of fixed frequencies UK-wide http://www.pmse.co.uk/fees.aspx In and of itself it is probably not that useful for a touring show- it is really useful for ENG work... and the fixed frequencies traditionally were way way way out of range for most US  entertainment gear (they have moved closer to US frequencies now).

This shared license gives you an account however, which means that you can log into their website and use tools that show you spectrum availability for a whole lot more spectrum (like the spectrum where you gear actually operates) on a geographic basis (they have scans of most of the UK venues that are a combination of real sampled data and a reasonable prediction model). Often times you can click and buy the spectrum you want... where you want it... when you want it.

If you are working at a major event... then it is highly likely the online tool will say "no dice"... they deliberately block it off, so that they can coordinate the demand against the supply... that is no bother... if you email in your "spots" ahead of time... they will be very accommodating and even run some rudimentary intermod calculations of your spots against significant other licensed carriers.

The experience in the UK can be positive. It is centralised and they give good quality information,as well as trying to actually facilitate your job!
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Jelmer de Jong

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Re: RF in Europe
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2014, 12:05:33 pm »

Amsterdam:
You're on your own. Below 500MHz not available for us. Above 800MHz 4G mobile telephones so no succes. In between you can go nuts, but be aware there is digital TV which operates in the same spectrum.
No licensing required if you use the standard power(10,50mW).
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