PLT and the Wireless Telegraphy Act
A bit of history
In Britain prior to 1922, the General Post Office (GPO) retained exclusive rights given to it by government, to manage and control all means of mass communication with the exception of the printed word for which authority had devolved to another governmental entity. The laws which evolved into the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1947, upon which all modern British communication laws are built in one way or another, concern four essential activities: the establishment of a station for purposes of broadcasting; the use of a station for purposes of broadcasting; the installing of a transmitter at a station, and the use of a transmitter at a station. All four of these activities require a government licence which was originally granted by the General Post Office.
There have been many amendments to the act over the years to keep abreast of changing technologies whilst keeping to the fundamental foundations.
The current act on statute is the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006.
Our reading of the act
It is our belief that PLT breaches the Wireless Telegraphy Act by its use of the mains wiring for a purpose for which it was not intended.
Section 116 of the Act states:
116 "Wireless telegraphy"
(1) In this Act "wireless telegraphy" means the emitting or receiving, over paths that are not provided by any material substance constructed or arranged for the purpose, of energy to which subsection (2) applies.
(2) This subsection applies to electromagnetic energy of a frequency not exceeding 3,000 gigahertz that—
(a) serves for conveying messages, sound or visual images (whether or not the messages, sound or images are actually received by anyone), or for operating or controlling machinery or apparatus; or
(b) is used in connection with determining position, bearing or distance, or for gaining information as to the presence, absence, position or motion of an object or of a class of objects.
(3) The Secretary of State may by order modify the definition of "wireless telegraphy" by substituting a different frequency for the frequency that is for the time being specified in subsection (2).
(4) No order is to be made containing provision authorised by subsection (3) unless a draft of the order has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House.
Section 117 of the Act states:
117 "Wireless telegraphy apparatus" and "wireless telegraphy station"
(1) In this Act "wireless telegraphy apparatus" means apparatus for the emitting or receiving, over paths that are not provided by any material substance constructed or arranged for the purpose, of energy to which section 116(2) applies.
(2) In this Act “wireless telegraphy station”—
(a) means a station for the emitting or receiving, over paths that are not provided by any material substance constructed or arranged for the purpose, of energy to which section 116(2) applies; and
(b) includes the wireless telegraphy apparatus of a ship or aircraft.
When a member of the pressure group UKQRM suggested to the UK's national regulator Ofcom that "paths that are not provided by any material substance constructed or arranged for the purpose" meant PLT should not be using the mains for radio frequency energy, their response was: "Seek your own legal advice."
We thought that was the job of a national government organisation?! If they do not know the answer, how is the rest of society to know where they legally stand?
Are you a legal-eagle? What is your take on this section of the WTA? We would love to hear from you!
Page updated: 10th September 2012
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