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Agentschap Telecom
Radio Controle Dienst (RCD)

In the Netherlands, Agentschap Telecom (AT), is the national Telecom Agency, responsible for tracing and confiscating clandestine radio stations and monitoring the frequency spectrum in general. 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.
The history of the former RCD (now AT) is somewhat clouded and most websites give incomplete or incorrect information. The most complete story so far, is presented in Frans Kluiter's excellent Index of Security Agencies in The Netherlands [1]. The agency started life in 1927 as RCD (Radio Controle Dienst), and was at that time part of the state-controlled Dutch Post Office (PTT).

Although the RCD did not disappear until 1989, its work was interrupted by WWII. During WWII, the RCD continued to exist, but was only allowed to investigate radio interference. Towards the end of the war, the newly erected BNV (Bureau Nationale Veiligheid) took over the task of finding clandestine transmitters. This resulted in the BRD (Bijzondere Radio Dienst) and eventually in two sections responsible for the work: OCZ (for civil tasks) and GMP (for military tasks).
Finally, in 1975, the OCZ and GMP were merged and renamed RCD again. 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 The Hague (Den Haag), 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 lauched in 1958, the interest in radio for long distance communication 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 performed goverment tasks, it was put under the supervision of the newly erected HDTP and was renamed RDR. Then, in 2002, the service moved from the Ministry of Transport to the Ministry of Economics and the name was changed 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 they are still located today. The large mast is still present and is now remote controlled from Amersfoort via a radio link. The NERA building is currently abandoned whilst the Dutch Government is investigating new destinations. Plans for demolition of the building and development of the surounding area for housing, have met with great critisism [2].
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

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 portable surveillance receiver Quante Purpose-built high-end PAN-1000 receiver PAN-1000 Schlumberger Minilock Programmable Precision Receiver Minilock

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

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 normal 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

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 such vehicles that were used by this agency. Some of these vehicles are 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 (pirates), the RCD started using smaller - standard - cars. One of the first normal cars to be used was the Ford Granada, that was choosen because it had a plastic rooftop. It allowed the directional antennas to be hidden inside the car and attracted less attention.

The 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.

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 started using other vehicles as well, such as the Peugeot 204.
Former names
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.
PTT   Staatsbedrijf der Posterijen, Telegrafie en Telefonie
1915-1989. Dutch state-owned monopolist for telecommunication and post. Privitized 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 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 with the OCZ that was renamed to RCD7. The PTT acted on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Transport.

HDTP   Hoofd-Directie Telecommunicatie en Post
1989-2002. 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
1989-2002. National Department for Radio Communication. This was the new name of the RCD when it was moved from the PTT to the HDTP.

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.

  3. Anonymous former Investigator of the RCD
    Interview at Crypto Museum, May 2011.

  4. Cor Moerman, Photographs of RCD vehicles
    Courtesy of Museum Jan Corver. February 2012.

Further information

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© Copyright 2009-2013, Paul Reuvers & Marc Simons. Last changed: Saturday, 22 June 2013 - 05:53 CET
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