Are your electronic devices approved?

Despite U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s efforts to inform Robinson Barracks residents about the need to cease use of unapproved electronic devices, such items continue to cause significant interference with German telecommunication services there.

Representatives from the German Federal Networks Agency (BNetzA) conducted another survey of RB on April 6 with radio direction finding equipment to detect sources of interference, according to Deputy U.S. Forces Liaison Officer T. Sean Schulze.

“We detected at least 20,” he said.
Some U.S. electronic devices that emit radio signals — such as cordless telephones, baby monitors and wireless stereo speakers — can cause harmful interference with German telecommunications and emergency services transmissions.

“Depending on the frequency being used, it could also interfere with police and fire department radios. If they are responding to something on RB, [and] if one of the devices there is operating at the same frequency, it could interfere with the emergency services’ ability to respond to the event,” Schulze said.

BNetzA is responsible for assigning German frequencies to companies or organizations with a wireless requirement. These companies pay up to billions of euros for exclusive rights to that frequency, Schulze added.

In December 2010, Vodafone, a German telecommunications company, lodged a complaint about interference on its cellular network with BNetzA, which isolated the source of interference to Robinson Barracks.

Since then, RB and USAG Stuttgart residents in general have been informed of the need to turn off their unapproved devices.
There will be more surveys at RB in the future, Schulze said. If use of unapproved devices continues, residents could face fines.

“The fines could range anywhere from €1,000 to €1,500 per incident,” said Quintin Quinn, chief of U.S. European Command spectrum management.
According to the German Telecommunications Act (TKG), published by BNetzA, those caught using a frequency not assigned to them fall subject to fines, which will increase with multiple infractions.
The easiest way to tell if a device is approved is to check for a CE symbol on it, or the BNetzA eagle symbol, Quinn said.

Just because the U.S. device works in Germany does not mean it is approved for use, he added. Even using an unapproved base station for a wireless phone can cause interference.
“If the device doesn’t have a CE or BNetzA on it, then it’s not approved,” he said.

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