Investigation of interference to amateur radio stations

The request was refused by Office of Communications.

Dear Office of Communications,

Please provide the following:

• Any documentation relating to Ofcom policy for assessment of complaints of interference to amateur radio stations, not pre-dating 2006.

• Documentation relating to, including, but not limited to: the current procedure (for field staff) for the “Initial assessment of complaints of interference to amateur radio stations and short wave enthusiasts”. Should this procedure now identify by a different title then please provide the new title and current procedure for field staff to deal with the assessment of interference to amateur radio stations. Please include all relevant tables and data.

• If no formally named procedure currently exists, please detail the accepted method by which field engineers determine the magnitude of interference to amateur radio stations.

Yours faithfully,

Nige Coleman

Alexander Wyndham, Office of Communications

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Coleman

 

Request for Information

 

Thank you for your request for information regarding investigation of
interference to amateur radio stations which we received on Tuesday, 20
August 2013.  Please find our acknowledgement letter, attached.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Alex Wyndham.

 

 

:: Alex Wyndham

   Administrator 

   Spectrum Engineering & Enforcement (Spectrum Support)

 

:: Ofcom

   Riverside House

   2a Southwark Bridge Road

   London SE1 9HA

   020 7981 3000

   [1]www.ofcom.org.uk

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Alexander Wyndham, Office of Communications

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Coleman

 

FoI 1-241340892 - Full Response

 

Thank you for your request for information regarding investigation of
interference to amateur radio stations.  We received this request on
Tuesday, 20 August 2013 and I have processed it under the terms of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000.  Please find Ofcom’s response attached.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Alex Wyndham.

 

 

:: Alex Wyndham

   Administrator 

   Spectrum Engineering & Enforcement (Spectrum Support)

 

:: Ofcom

   Riverside House

   2a Southwark Bridge Road

   London SE1 9HA

   020 7981 3000

   [1]www.ofcom.org.uk

 

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Dear Alexander Wyndham,

Firstly, in this FOI request I specifically asked you for the procedure that field staff use when determining interference to amateur radio stations. Instead of providing what I explicitly asked for you gave me the Wireless Telegraphy Act. Evidently I didn't make myself very clear.

I request the procedure Ofcom issues to its field staff to assess the interference at amateur radio stations. As "an evidence based organisation" (Clive Corrie, PLT Stakeholders' meeting, 2010) surely you must issue instructions to your staff? There is a legal imperative which requires amateur radio stations to be protected from electromagnetic disturbance. Ofcom must therefore have a procedure. Please provide this.

Yours sincerely,

Nige Coleman

Alexander Wyndham, Office of Communications

Dear Mr Coleman,

Thank you for your reply to my email of 18 September 2013, which conveyed Ofcom's response to your Freedom of Information request (ref. 1-241340892).

We regret that you do not believe Ofcom's response was a complete answer to your initial enquiry. The matter has been discussed, and our Freedom of Information Team has requested I ask you if an internal review of the response is sought.

Do you wish us to formally review our response of 18 September?

Yours sincerely,

Alex Wyndham

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Dear Alexander Wyndham,

If requesting an internal review will result in Ofcom answering the question I originally asked - what is the formal procedure for assessing interference at an amateur radio station, then I welcome it.

Frankly I am perplexed why a review should be necessary? I have asked a simple question and require only the documented procedure as the answer. Why is Ofcom using these delaying tactics?

I have no alternative but request a review and insist that as a part of that review the documented procedure be provided without further delay. In addition, I now also request the date the procedure was written and the date it was implemented.

Yours sincerely,

Nige Coleman

Julia Snape, Office of Communications

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Coleman

 

In response to your email dated 30 September, please find attached a
letter with regard to your request for internal review.

 

A response to your separate request under FOI for information about emails
is being handled by my colleague Eleanor Berg and will follow in due
course.

 

Kind regards

Julia

 

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Nige Coleman left an annotation ()

Due to an obvious obfuscation trick, the final reply from Ofcom to this matter cannot be viewed as HTML and thus not indexed by search engines. I have added the full text of the reply below for completeness - and to ensure it IS indexed. . .

The implication of the reply is that Ofcom, the organisation charged under law to manage the spectrum, does not have a policy or a procedure for dealing with interference to any spectrum stakeholder. If this is indeed the case then this is a desperately serious matter requiring urgent action. I recommend anyone unhappy with this state of affairs contact their MP.

Reply:

24 October 2013

Nigel Coleman
request-173907-a8ab96a7@whatdotheyknow.com
Julia Snape
Information requests
Secretariat

information.requests@ofcom.org.uk
Internal review reference: 1-244171530
Original request reference: 1-241340892

Dear Mr Coleman
Freedom of Information: Right to know request
Thank you for your request for an internal review of our decision of 18 September 2013 in which we said we did not hold the information you requested regarding procedures for assessment of complaints of interference to amateur radio stations. We received your request for an internal review on 30 September 2013.
Your original request was as follows:
Please provide the following:

• Any documentation relating to Ofcom policy for assessment of complaints of interference to amateur radio stations, not pre-dating 2006.

• Documentation relating to, including, but not limited to: the current procedure (for field staff) for the “Initial assessment of complaints of interference to amateur radio stations and short wave enthusiasts”. Should this procedure now identify by a different title then please provide the new title and current procedure for field staff to deal with the assessment of interference to amateur radio stations. Please include all relevant tables and data.

• If no formally named procedure currently exists, please detail the accepted method by which field engineers determine the magnitude of interference to amateur radio stations.

I have assessed your original request for information received on 20 August 2013 and the response that my colleague Eleanor Berg sent to you on 18 September 2013. I note you have requested an internal review of our decision that a formal procedure for assessing interference at an amateur radio station is not held. I note also that you have an Ofcom document entitled ‘Initial assessment of complaints of interference to amateur radio stations and short wave enthusiasts’, now published on your web blog, referencing Ofcom not providing you with that document or any other document related to procedures.
I have looked closely at the information you requested on 20 August 2013 and whether Ofcom correctly applied a ‘not held’ response to you under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (‘the Act’).

Following my review, I have concluded that Ofcom correctly applied a ‘not held’ response to points 1 and 2 of your request and in regard to point 3, in the absence of any formally named procedures, correctly explained the accepted method by which field engineers determine the magnitude of interference to amateur radio stations.

Turning to the document you have in hand, entitled ‘Initial assessment of complaints of interference to amateur radio stations and short wave enthusiasts’, I can confirm it refers (as it says in the second paragraph of the document) to an historic trial methodology that field engineers employed for six months to quantify the levels of interference being reported by amateurs. The paper was written by an Ofcom expert in the field of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and interference and distributed at an RSGB meeting in April 2009. The trial commenced in October 2009, lapsed at the end of the six month period, and was not replaced under either the same or a different title. As a trial methodology, it did not meet the description of a “policy” under the first part of your request, nor is there a “current procedure” within the terms of the second part of your request.

I can confirm there is no formally named procedure which would bind an individual field engineer of the type we understand you to be requesting. Furthermore, we do not differentiate between how we approach investigating reports of interference made by various stakeholders other than prioritising some investigations taking into consideration the victim (e.g. safety of life services). Our approach is to treat each case on its individual merits talking into account all of the available evidence.
Yours sincerely

Julia Snape

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office Wycliffe House Water Lane Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF

If you have any queries or would like to discuss this informally then please contact Information Requests (email: information.requests@ofcom.org.uk). Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

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