Cordless audio devices are widely used in the entertainment industry - they include such items as professional radio microphones, cordless audio distribution, foldback and talkback systems. They also include low-cost licence-exempt consumer radio microphones, audio systems used by tour guides, and aids for handicapped people.

Devices such as radio microphones are small and highly mobile. Since the professional versions tend to be moved to different parts of the world, they need to meet local regulations, and the best way to achieve this is for them to be specified at a world-wide level.

The Global Standards Collaboration (GSC), of which ETSI is a partner, has studied requirements for radio microphones and cordless audio equipment in standards organizations throughout the world and adopted a report including globally-acceptable specifications for these products. Participating Standards Organizations were requested to transpose these specifications into their own deliverables. ETSI has done this by adapting the existing standards to align them with the decisions of GSC.

Responding to market needs

Another example of ETSI's work in this area concerns cordless audio devices using VHF Band II. A number of devices (e.g. portable music players) have been developed which contain a very low-power FM broadcast transmitter to send music to a user's radio receiver on an unused channel - typically, this would permit a user to play their MP3 player through their car radio. However, current legislation does not allow the operation of such equipment in European countries, but ETSI has been working with CEPT to develop a standard to allow such operation without causing harmful interference to licensed broadcast services. This has now been incorporated into the relevant standard, EN 301 357 (cordless audio devices).