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Britain Approves In-Car FM Transmitters

Britain has joined Germany and Switzerland in lifting restrictions which banned the use of low-power FM transmitters to send music from a portable media player (like an iPod or MP3 Player) to an FM radio receiver (like a car stereo system). Britain’s Office of Communications—Ofcom—has issued an amendment the country’s 1949 Wireless Telegraphy Act which makes certain low-power FM transmitters legal as of December 8, 2006; however, many devices on the market will still run afoul of Ofcom’s technical specifications. Approved transmitters will bear a CE label for approved use in Britain and throughout the European Union, although many European countries still ban the transmitters.

The low-power FM transmitters enable a portable music player to wirelessly beam music to an FM-capable system over a short distance using an open frequency, eliminating the need to physically connect a portable player to the audio system. The transmitters can interfere with the reception of local FM radio stations, but their power output is so small their transmissions can rarely be picked up more than 30 feet away.

The revised regulations follow a review wherein the general public and several members of Parliament asked that the low-power transmitters be legalized. The 1949 law banned similar devices under the notion that any interference with legal radio station was contrary to the public interest—understandable in post-WWII Britain just as the Cold War was getting underway.

The Office of Communication is also eliminating the requirement for a license to use CItizen’s Band (CB) radio.

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