Radio Interference Investigation

ComReg’s Spectrum Intelligence and Investigations unit investigates cases of radio interference. Interference can affect any radio service, including but not limited to, emergency services, air traffic control, mobile phone services, business radio, microwave links and broadcast services.

Unintentional interference can be caused by incorrectly or poorly installed radio systems and by faulty or non-compliant electrical or electronic equipment. Unlawful devices, such as mobile phone repeaters are a common source of interference. Any electrical or electronic device has the potential to be a source of radio interference given the right circumstances.

Where a member of the public believes that their telephone, broadband or mobile phone service is experiencing radio interference this should be reported to the service provider. If the service provider determines that an external interference issue is occurring it will contact Spectrum Intelligence and Investigations directly by emailing interference@comreg.ie. In such cases Spectrum Intelligence and Investigations can only deal with the network operator and updates cannot be provided to third parties or members of the public.

Licensed operators, having had a competent person (e.g. a radio installer/supplier) check their own system for faults, may report cases of radio interference to Spectrum Intelligence and Investigations directly by emailing interference@comreg.ie

Where a member of the public is experiencing disruption to Saorview or satellite television reception, a television reception system installer should check the installation for faults. System faults such as damaged cables & aerials are common sources of disruption to reception. Should it be determined that the disruption is caused by external interference, this should then be reported to Spectrum Intelligence and Investigations directly by emailing interference@comreg.ie

Please note that ComReg does not charge a fee for investigations of suspected interference.

  1. In order to respond to complaints of RFI more effectively, ComReg has introduced a new radio frequency interference (“RFI”) reporting protocol for all complainants. This protocol requires complainants to provide more focused and in depth information to assist ComReg in its triage and prioritisation of complaints. For convenience, the mandatory requirements for opening a complaint of RFI are set out in this PDF.
  2. This new protocol makes clear that ComReg cannot investigate a report of RFI unless it is satisfied that the interference is ‘harmful’, outside of the complainants control and that all reasonable steps have been taken by the complainant to minimise the effect.
  3. Once a complainant is satisfied that the interference it is experiencing is, in its view, harmful, outside of its control and that the affected apparatus is functioning correctly, then a complaint can be submitted to interference@comreg.ie accompanied by the supporting material as required in this PDF document below.
  4. ComReg acknowledges all complaints received to interference@comreg.ie on the day of receipt. Complaints received outside of work hours are acknowledged on the next working day. Please note: ComReg’s hours of work are 9:00 am to 5.30 pm, Monday to Friday. ComReg staff do not operate on an “on call basis”.

 

 

Case Prioritisation Process

The Commission for Communications Regulation (“ComReg”) hereby sets out its prioritisation process for the handling of radio frequency interference (“RFI”) complaints. ComReg reserves the right to divert from the prioritisation process set out below where necessary, and at its own discretion.

Type A cases

Type A category would generally be exceptional in nature. Typically, such cases would have a severe impact on an operator’s ability to continue to provide a radio communications service and may result in a complete loss of service to users.

Cases falling into this category would need to fit the following general description:

  1. Depending on the type of radio communications service being provided there would need to be multiple stations experiencing interference simultaneously; and
  2. The licensee would have no alternative back up channel to switch its service to and
  3. Large numbers of users would need to be experiencing loss of service.

Examples of Type A cases could include:

  • Instances where multiple TV and radio broadcasting transmitters are experiencing harmful interference such that it is not possible to provide any service to a large number of users.
  • Harmful interference to a number of base stations on a mobile network such that significant numbers of users are unable to use their mobile phones
  • Aeronautical or emergency services are interfered with to such an extent that it is impossible for any communications service to be provided to the end user. This may result in the grounding or redirection of aircraft in the case of aeronautical interference.

 

Type B cases

Type B cases would typically have the following general description:

  1. Depending on the type of radio communications service being provided there would generally be one or two stations experiencing interference; and
  2. The licensee would have an alternative back-up channel to switch its service to; and
  3. Relatively small number of users would be experiencing loss or degradation of service.

Examples of Type B cases could include:

Instances where a radio link is experiencing harmful interference such that it cannot operate as licensed;

  • Harmful interference to a base station on a mobile network such that a single sector of the base station has to be turned off; and
  • Harmful interference to a base station such that there is a degradation in the quality of service being provided to the end users.

 

Type C matters

 Matters falling under Type C would typically be queries of the following types:

  • Questions submitted to interference@comreg.ie that ComReg can respond to and address without recording as a formal complaint.
  • Those cases of harmful interference submitted to interference@comreg.ie where, due to the nature of the service provided, the complainant is not entitled to any protection from harmful interference by ComReg or is outside of ComReg’s remit.
  • Those cases of harmful interference submitted to interference@comreg.ie where the complainant does not provide sufficient information for ComReg to be able to properly evaluate the complaint.

Examples of Type C cases would include:

  • Reports of harmful interference to TV satellite receivers; and
  • Reception issues to domestic TV.

 

Response times

The nature of radio spectrum interference is such that:

  • it is often intermittent;
  • the causes of interference can be from a legitimate source; and
  • the resolution may require intervention by the complainant that may take some time to put in place.

As such the detection and elimination of interference from a radio communications service can be complex and require several site visits before resolution. Consequently, it is not possible to set defined close out times for interference cases.

Response time means the time taken, from receipt of all the required information from the complainant, to ComReg, or its agents, being deployed into the field to investigate the cause of interference. This response time is on the basis that the complainant makes engineering staff available to assist ComReg or its agent on site. If a complainant cancels or fails to attend a pre-arranged site visit, the period from cancellation or non-attendance, to ComReg or its agent’s site visit, along with the time required to reschedule a site visit, will not be counted as part of the response time.

It is important to note that ComReg’s business hours are Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.30pm. ComReg does not operate on a 24/7 basis and does not have an “on-call” team to respond to complaints outside of office hours. As such complaints received outside of office hours may not be responded to until the next working day.

 

Complaint Type Response Time
Type A Immediate
Type B 5 working Days
Type C N/A