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Ofcom says iTrip will be legal for Christmas

The regulator has confirmed it is ready to legalise use of the add-on that turns your iPod into a radio station
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

After years of illegality, the iTrip and related devices are about to get the UK's stamp of approval.

The communications regulator Ofcom announced on Thursday that after a successful 10-week consultation it is giving the stamp of approval to the small FM transmitters that connect to the iPod and broadcasts a signal that can heard on a car radio or home stereo receiver.

Many people have been happily using them illegally for years.In fact, Ofcom has estimated the number of iTrips being used illegally in the UK at around 87,500, or 10 percent of the potential market of 875,000.

The iTrip, which costs around £40 with similar devices available from £10 and up, can be set to a free FM channel so you can listen to your iPod using any radio receiver. Tune your household radios to the same frequency and you can have tunes from your collection of iPod music, playing in every room in the house.

The issue in the past has been that, while they're perfectly legal in the US, using them here contravenes the Wireless Telegraphy Regulations in the UK. This didn't put off UK users, as witnessed by US retailers reporting that the UK was one of the most popular markets for these devices.

The Griffin iTrip is currently legal to sell in Europe, since it has a CE mark, but in the UK its illegal to use because it broadcasts an FM signal. The law in question was drawn up to restrict pirate radio stations, rather than micro FM transmitters.

Derrick Stembridge, marketing director of Griffin Technology, welcomed the news from Ofcom. "It's great that Griffin will be able to support legally sold and used iTrips," he said.

Steve Hawkins, managing director of distributor AM Micro, has been a keen proponent for the change in law. "It's ridiculous to consider such harmless technology as illegal. Thankfully with the help of MPs like Don Foster [Lib Dem MP for Bath] and the staff at Ofcom that looks certain to change very soon."

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