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Radio 'jammers' face stiff fines in Bahrain

Manama, July 28, 2009

Unlicensed radio frequency users in Bahrain could face fines of up to BD500,000 under a new crackdown, it has been announced.

Such practices, which include the use of 'jammers', could interfere in emergency services and licensed radio equipment, say Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) officials.

The TRA is conducting a nationwide investigation and search for users who operate radio-communication equipment without a frequency licence.

General director Alan Horne told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News that the move was necessary to ensure that legitimate users did not experience interference when going about their daily tasks.

'The issue that we have here is no different to the situation that any country is experiencing and that is that our broadcast spectrum is getting increasingly congested,' he said.

'Companies may instal a microwave link between two points or buildings (used to operate multiple security cameras or act as a backup method of communication) without getting the correct licence.

'People with the correct license may also find that their equipment no longer operating in the designated frequency.

'Whatever the reason, the key point is that legitimate users find that their communication gets interrupted.'

Horne said that they had even encountered a number of individuals using illegal 'jammers' to limit the use of mobile phones in a public area, which could limit the ability of emergency services to communicate with one another.

'We have seen jammers used here in various places, but when we've contacted these people they have always co-operated and haven't been aware that they are illegal,' he said.

'But jammers can cause a lot of problems and interference, especially for emergency services and potentially huge problems for businesses such as banks who may need to transmit valuable high-speed data between two points.'

According to the Telecommunications Law, use of the radio spectrum in Bahrain is only permitted by users who have a frequency licence.

It stipulates that any person operating radio-communications equipment without license will not face confiscation of all the offending tools and equipment as well as could be punished with a fine of up to BD500,000.

Horne said that the fine was set up to that amount because of the damage that could be potentially caused by misuse of such equipment.

'Driving a car on the road without a licence is one thing, but in a lot of ways this is far more severe,' he said.

'In this instance, these people are stopping somebody else from functioning in their own space which they have been properly licensed to do.'

Such offences were relatively low and complaints have been few and far between, but the TRA was taking a more active stance to combat the issue in the future.

'I can't say there have been a lot of occurrences, but we have received a number of complaints,' said Horne.

'We are going to have a fairly intensive review and we want people to be aware that we are closely monitoring these frequencies now.

'If there are any illegal users out there, we now hope they will check their equipment and apply for the relevant licences before they are penalised.'-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Telecommunications Regulatory Authority | Radio |

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