Ofcom is seeking powers to prosecute users of digital TV power line adapters who cause interference to DAB radio signals and the signals used by the emergency services. There is also speculation that spying agency GCHQ is unhappy that power line data connectivity can not be hacked, unlike wifi or wire line connectivity.
Ofcom is concerned that power line adapters, which allow consumers to use their mains wiring to transmit data, are causing interference to neighbours' services and radio services used by the authorities. Power lines are an alternative to wifi connectivity, and hundreds of thousands of power line adapters have been distributed to BT and TalkTalk customers to connect their television set-top boxes to broadband lines.
If the broadband connection is in one part of the house and the TV and set-top box is too far away to physically connect using a wire, the power-line adapters are usually distributed free to subscribers of the TV service, such as BT Vision.
Ofcom has just published a consultation that quickly ends next month, proposing that it should be able to fine power line adapter users up to £5,000 if they cause interference to others' radio services. Such a threat will not go down well with TV subscribers who are simply using the equipment given to them by their service provider. Prosecutions will happen if users do not comply with enforcement notices demanding they stop using devices that are causing interference.
Ofcom said it received 114 complaints of electromagnetic interference last year, but said it had powers to resolve only three of the complaints, which is why it wants the new powers.
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