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Agentschap Telecom   AT
Formerly known as Radio Controle Dienst (RCD)

In the Netherlands, Agentschap Telecom (AT), is the national Telecom Agency, responsible for allocating frequencies, enforcing the Telecom Law and monitoring the use of the frequency spectrum. In the past, this organization has been known under different names and was at one time part of the Dutch Post Office (PTT). The agency is based in Groningen and Amersfoort.

Official logo of the AT. Click to go to the website.

RCD equipment on this website
Quante StSG 52 portable surveillance receiver Sadelco field strength indicator FS-3CE Radio Direction Finder (RDF) Bendix ADF-T-12-C automatic direction finder for LF/MF NRP field strength indicator with built-in frequency counter Purpose-built high-end PAN-1000 receiver Automatic Frequency Counter Schlumberger Minilock Programmable Precision Receiver
The history of the AT (formerly: RCD) is somewhat clouded and most websites give incomplete or incorrect information. The most complete story so far, is presented in Frans Kluiters' excellent book Index of Security Agencies in The Netherlands [1]. The agency started life in 1927 as Radio Controle Dienst (Radio Monitoring Service), RCD for short, and was at that time part of the state-owned Dutch Post Office (PTT), operating under and on behalf of the Ministry of Transport.

Original RCD stationary head

Although the name RCD did not disappear until 1989, its work was interrupted by WWII. During the war, the RCD continued to exist, but was only allowed to investigate radio interference. After the war, the newly established BNV (Bureau Nationale Veiligheid) took over the task of finding clandestine transmitters. This resulted in the BRD (Bijzondere Radio Dienst) and eventually in two separate sections responsible for the work: OCZ (for civil tasks) and GMP (for military tasks).

Finally, in 1975, the OCZ and GMP were merged again under the name RCD. The new RCD acted under supervision of the PTT. During the 1970s and 1980s, the RCD arguably had its most busy period when The Netherlands was flooded with illegal FM radio stations, also known as pirates.

Initially, the RCD had its headquarters in Den Haag (The Hague), but in 1974 all departments were moved to the magnificent building on the right: the history-rich NERA radio station in Nederhorst den Berg where, back in 1954, the RCD had installed a radio monitoring station.
The former RCD headquarters in Nederhorst den Berg

The building at NERA (Nederhorst den Berg Radio) was erected shortly after WWII, in July 1948, for the international radio traffic of the PTT. The central location of the premises and the moist terrain had proved to be ideal for the reception of (weak) radio signals. It was opened in 1950.

After the first trans-atlantic telecommunications cable was put into use in 1956 and the first telecommunications satellite was launched in 1958, the interest in radio for long distance communication rapidly declined. In 1974, the last radio link (with Paramaribo) was closed [2]. In the meantime, several other organizations had used the premises for experiments and research. Once the radio station was closed, the PTT moved all departments of the RCD to NERA and gave it full control over the premises. On 7 May 1981 the refurbished NERA building was reopened.

One of the first events at the new premises was a visit from the State Secretary of Traffic, Mrs. Neelie Smit-Kroes. The director of the RCD, Daan Neuteboom, gave her a tour through the building, presented his 'troups' and complained about the fact that he was understaffed. When Mrs. Kroes asked him how many people he needed, he stared at the ceeling for a moment, and replied 'Fourty Mrs. State Secretary' [3].

She promised him his new staff and also gave permission for the development of a new high-end surveillance receiver: the PAN-1000.
The new PAN-1000 receiver, developed by the NRP.

This situation lasted until 1989 when the PTT was privatized. As the RCD had law enforcement tasks, it was put under the supervision of the newly erected HDTP and was renamed RDR. Then, in 2002, the agency moved from the Ministry of Transport to the Ministry of Economics and the name was changed once more into Agentschap Telecom (AT), with its headquarters in Groningen.

In 2005, the AT left the NERA building in Nederhorst den Berg and moved its operational division to Amersfoort, where it is still located today. The large mast is still present and is now remotely controlled from Amersfoort via a radio link. Plans for demolition of the building and development of the surounding area for housing, have been met with great critisism [2]. In 2010, NERA became a listed building and has meanwhile been bought by a private party for nostalgic reasons.

The former RCD headquarters in Nederhorst den Berg The former RCD headquarters in Nederhorst den Berg The sign at the rear gate shows that AT is the current owner The rear gate allowing entrance to suppliers The main building seen from the rear The big mast with numerous antennas Close-up of some monitoring antennas
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The former RCD headquarters in Nederhorst den Berg
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The former RCD headquarters in Nederhorst den Berg
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The sign at the rear gate shows that AT is the current owner
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The rear gate allowing entrance to suppliers
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The main building seen from the rear
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The big mast with numerous antennas
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Close-up of some monitoring antennas

Over the years, the RCD/AT has used and still uses a wide variety of equipment for their many different tasks. Some of the equipment is highlighted on this website:

Quante StSG-52
In the early days of the of the RCD, small portable direction finding receivers were used for finding pirate radio stations. One example is the Wilhelm Quante StSG-52 shown on the right.

In his early days as an inspector, RCD director Daan Neuteboom toured the countryside with this device, seated on the back of a bicycle.

 More information

Sadelco FS-3CE
Especially for measurements and locating in close proximity of an (illegal) transmitter, the tunable FS-3CE field strength meter was used. The portable meter was made by Sadelco in the USA and has a surprisingly acurate readout.

Furthermore it can demodulate the received signal, so that the operator can check whether the correct station is being traced.

 More information
Sadelco FS-3CE in leather carrying case

During the 1970s and early 1980s, the RCD used several models of a Radio Direction Finder (RDF), or Automatic Direction Finder (ADF), made by the American company Ocean Applied Research.

Some models were made for the 27 MHz CB band (which was prohibited in the Netherlands at the time), whilst others were made for the 100 MHz FM broadcast band.

 More information

For locating illegal radio transmitters operating in the Medium Wave (MW) AM broadcast band, a Bendix ADF-T12 direction finding receiver was used. Although this receiver was intended for use in small airplanes to finding the bearing to a long-range radio beacon, it proved to be extremely effective against MW radio pirates.

 More information

The PAN-1000 was an intercept and surveillance receiver that was developed in the early 1980s by the NRP, especially for the RCD. It was used for finding clandestine transmitters and was designed to fit inside a regular car.

Development of the receiver took several years and a single unit was priced at NLG 160,000 (approx. EUR 73,000). About 30 units were built.

 More information
Tuning the PAN-1000

Alongside the PAN-1000 intercept receiver (see above), the NRP also released this small portable field-strength indicator that was used by the law enforcement officers to pinpoint the location of clandestine transmitter at very close range.

This unit has a built-in frequency counter that could be enabled temporarily by the user, to quickly determine the frequency of the signal.

 More information
NRP field strength meter with built-in frequency counter

This mobile frequency counter was mounted in the dashboard of some intercept vehicles, in most cases in the bay that was intended for the car stereo.

The counter locks automatically onto the strongest signal when in close proximity of a transmitter, so that the intercept officer immediately knows the frequency of the signal to intercept.

 More information
Dare CR-3000/C

Minilock was a series of high-end receivers that were ideal for surveillance and intercept tasks. The RCD used a variety of such communications receivers, including the Minilock 6910.

 More information
Minilock 6910 control panel

For tracing clandestine radio stations and for finding sources of radio and television interference, the RCD/AT has to rely on mobile radio monitoring installations. Depending on the task, suitable contemporary vehicles are used. Below is a non-exhaustive overview of vehicles that have been used by the agency. Some of these vehicles were equipped with direction finding equipment.

Ford Transit
One of the first mobile monitoring stations used by the agency, was housed inside a Ford Transit van. In order to hide its true identity, the Transit was disguised as a camper van, complete with curtains and a roof rack. The rather large circular direction finding antenna, was installed as a 'spare tyre' on the roof rack. These Ford Transit camper vans were used well into the 1970s.

Ford Transit intercept vehicle used by the BRD/RCD [4]

The image above shows one of the Ford Transit vans that were used by the Bijzondere Radio Dienst (BRD) during the 1960s. The picture was taken on the Waalsdorpervlakte in Scheveningen (Netherlands) during an experiment with VHF direction finding. The man standing in front of the car is Gerard Mulder. His boss, Piet van Egmond, is standing aside the vehicle [4].

Interior of the Ford Transit intercept vehicle, showing the Telefunken Telegon [4].

The image above shows the interior of the Ford Transit camper van. Central in the picture is the Telefunken Telegon direction finder that was used on the HF bands. It was connected to a large direction finding antenna that was installed on the roof rack, disguised as the spare tyre. The unit to the left of the Telegon, is a VHF converter that was used for an experiment. This type of vehicle was still in use when the agency changed its name back to Radio Controle Dienst (RCD) in 1975.

Ford Granada
In the late 1970s, when The Netherlands was flooded with clandestine radio stations and illegal CB band users, commonly known as pirates, the RCD started using regular sedan-type cars. One of the first standard cars to be used was the Ford Granada, shown in the image below. It was choosen because it attracted far less attention than the bulky Ford Transit camper van, and had a plastic rooftop under which some of the (directional) antennas were discretely hidden from view.

RCD intercept vehicle with licence plate FZ-36-YF [3]

As the pressure was high and budgets were thight, it was decided to by the cheapest variant of the Granada in the standard colour: white. As part of the conversion into an intercept vehicle, the cars were sprayed in a less obtrusive colour, like dark blue or metallic beige, and most of the interior was stripped in order to accomodate hidden antennas, cabling and a lot of equipment.

The equipment that was needed for reception and direction finding, was housed inside a small 12-U 19" rack that was placed on the passenger seat, in such a way that the equipment could be operated by the driver. In the rare image on the right the contents of the rack are clearly visible.

It contains a Bendix direction finder, an ADF-9xx direction finder, a Sadelco field strength meter, a 27 MHz CB transceiver, a computer scanner, a tape recorder and a pager. In addition, some vehicles were equipped with a two-way radio that was mounted to the right side of the rack.
Early version of the equipment rack (source unknown)

The rack was mounted on a bracket, so that it could be removed within a few minutes, which was necessary as some operators used the vehicle as the family car during the weekend. Apart from the equipment in the rack, the car was fitted with a digital Blaupunkt car radio (with its control panel on a flexible arm to the right of the steering wheel), an early car phone and an attentuator.

In the diagram below, the 19" equipment rack is shown in yellow, marked with the letter 'A'. The image on the right shows another variant of the intercept rack inside the blue Ford Granada with licence plate FZ-36-YF, taken around 1985 [3].

In this particular setup a special VHF variant of the OAR direction finder was used, probably with the model number ADF-928, whilst the Sadelco field strength meter is visible just below/behind the steering wheel. The wide unit at the bottom of the rack is a high-end Handic 0016 computer scanner, which was very popular at the time [3].
Equipment rack inside the blue Ford Granada. Note that in the door opening the original colour of the car (white) is still visible. Copyright Crypto Museum.

In the early 1980s, after the RCD had moved from The Hague to Nederhorst den Berg, the purpose-built PAN-1000 receiver was introduced. It replaced earlier less accurate receivers and was built inside the trunk of the existing Ford Granada vehicles, with a panoramic display mounted at the dashboard, and an intuitive remote control unit in between the two front seats.

Position of the PAN-1000 components inside the Ford Granada. Click for more information.

The 19" racks (1) and (2) are mounted in the trunk. The interface between the receiver and the display would be fitted inside the glove compartment (3) of the car, whilst the display itself was mounted on the dasboard (4). Finally, the remote control unit was mounted between the seats, just aside the handbrake (5). The antenna was mounted somewhere on the body of the car (6).

Although the Ford Granada was a rather unobtrusive car, it soon became an RCD icon and was widely known by the pirates who assembled long lists of RCD licence plates. In order to catch more pirates, the agency then started using other vehicles as well, such as the Peugeot 204.

 More about the PAN-1000

BeigeFord Granada with licence plate DN-55-DS (source unknown) Blue Ford Granada with licence plate FZ-36-YF (copyright Crypto Museum) Equipment rack inside the blue Ford Granada
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BeigeFord Granada with licence plate DN-55-DS (source unknown)
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Blue Ford Granada with licence plate FZ-36-YF (copyright Crypto Museum)
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Equipment rack inside the blue Ford Granada

The Dutch Radio Monitoring Service is currently known as AT (Agentschap Telecom), but this was not always the case. In the past, the agency has been known under various names, of which Radio Controle Dienst (RCD) is arguably the most well-known one. Here are some of the abbreviations:

PTT   Staatsbedrijf der Posterijen, Telegrafie en Telefonie
1915-1989. Dutch state-owned monopolist for telecommunication and post. Privatized in 1989 and later split into several companies, such as Postbank (bank), KPN (telecom) and TPG (post). (Wikipedia)
RCD   Radio Controle Dienst
1927-1940. Radio Monitoring Service. Established as part of the Department of Post, Telephony and Telegraphy (PTT) of the Ministry of Transport (Verkeer en Waterstaat). Temporarily interrupted during WWII (1940-1945).
BNV   Bureau Nationale Veiligheid
1945-1946. National Bureau for Security. This Bureau had a special Radiodienst (Radio Service) that took over the tasks of the RCD.
BD   Bureau Bijzondere Diensten
1947-1952. Bureau for Special Services, sometimes known as Bureau BD. Established by the PTT as a co-operative body between the PTT and the BNV.
BRD   Bijzondere Radio Dienst
1952-1975. Special Radio Service. Post-war agency to follow up on the dismantled BNV, combining the efforts of the PTT and the BNV. Initially it was called Bureau BD, but in 1951/1952 the name was changed to BRD.
OCZ   Opsporingsdienst Clandestine Zenders
1947-1975. Law Enforcement Agency for Clandestine Radio Stations. Department of the post-war BRD (formerly Bureau BD). Later part of the RCD.
GMP   Groep Mobiele Peilers
1969-1975. Mobile Direction Finding Group. A new department of the post-war BRD specialized in mobile direction finding. A combined effort of the PTT and the Dutch Security Agency BVD (Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst, now called: AIVD).
RCD   Radio Controle Dienst
1975-1989. Radio Monitoring Service. Part of the Dutch PTT. In 1975 the entire post-war BRD was integrated with the PTT (as RCD6). The same happened to the OCZ that was renamed to RCD7. At the time, the PTT acted on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Transport.
HDTP   Hoofd-Directie Telecommunicatie en Post
1989-2001. Main Division for Telecommunication and Post. In 1989 the Dutch Post Office (PTT) was privatized and the RCD was moved to the newly created HDTP; the new Dutch organization for Telecommunication and Post.
RDR   Rijksdienst voor Radiocommunicatie
1989-2001. National Department for Radio Communication. This was the new name of the RCD when it was moved from the PTT to the HDTP.
IVW   Inspectie Verkeer en Waterstaat
2001-2012. In 2001 the inspection and (law) enforcement tasks were separated out of the Ministry of Transport (V&W) into the separate entity Inspectie Verkeer en Waterstaat (IVW) under which the RDR would reside as Divisie Telecom (DT) or IVW/DT. The DT didn't last long, as a year later it became part of the Ministry of Economics (EZ) and was renamed AT. The IVW existed until 2012 when, after a merger with another governmental oversight body, it was renamed Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport (ILT).
DT   Divisie Telecom
2001-2002. After the RDR was moved from the HDTP to the newly established IVW, it was renamed DT (Division Telecom) and became known as IVW/DT. The new agency was short-lived, as a year later it became part of the Ministry of Economics (EZ).
AT   Agentschap Telecom
2002-Present. Telecommunication Agency. In July 2002, the agency was renamed once again, following the move from the Ministry of Transport to the Ministry of Economics.
Current addresses
  • Headquarters
    Agentschap Telecom
    Emmasingel 1
    9726 AH Groningen (Netherlands)
    Phone: +31 (0)50-5877444
    Fax: +31 (0)50-5877400
    E-mail: info@agentschaptelecom.nl

  • Monitoring and Enforcement
    Agentschap Telecom
    Piet Mondriaanlaan 54
    3812 GV Amersfoort (Netherlands)
    Radio interference: 0900-8991151 (EUR 0.20 per minute)
  1. F.A.C. Kluiters, De Nederlandse inlichtingen- en veiligheidsdiensten. Sectie 2.
    The Dutch Intelligence and Security Agencies, Part 2 (Dutch).
    ISBN: 90-12-08179-3. Den Haag (Netherlands), 1995.

  2. NERA Gebouw, NERA en de Horstermeer
    Website for the preservation of the NERA building (Dutch). Retrieved January 2013. 1

  3. Anonymous former RCD enforcement officer
    Interview at Crypto Museum, May 2011 and December 2016.
    Images copyright Crypto Museum.

  4. Cor Moerman, Photographs of RCD vehicles
    Courtesy of Museum Jan Corver. February 2012.
  1. Website no longer available in 2017.

Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Monday 30 May 2011. Last changed: Saturday, 05 August 2017 - 09:46 CET.
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