On June 5, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC’s” or the “Commission’s”) Enforcement Bureau (“Bureau”) issued a Notice of Apparent Liability against a manufacturer and retailer for marketing non-compliant RF devices, a dozen models of which were capable of operating in restricted spectrum bands.  The FCC proposes to assess a total fine of $2,861,128.00 against ABC Fulfillment Services LLC and Indubitably, Inc. (collectively, “HobbyKing”) for equipment authorization rule violations involving 65 models of recreational audio/video transmitters (“AV Transmitters”) used with model airplanes drones.  But more than $2.2 million of that resulted from the fact that twelve models apparently operates in restricted radio bands and three at higher powers than authorized in other bands. The restricted bands are those in which unlicensed transmitters are not allowed to operate because of potential interference to sensitive radio communications.  In the case of HobbyKing’s  the Commission found that its AV transmitters operated in bands where important government and public safety operations, such as those of the Federal Aviation Administration managing commercial and passenger flight traffic, doppler weather radar, flight testing, and other activities the FCC has determined are particularly worthy of heightened interference protection take place.  In other words, the moral is that marketing devices that do not have proper equipment authorization is bad, but doing so when the devices operate within restricted bands is quite simply “egregious,” as the NAL put it.

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Simultaneously with issuing a nearly $3,000,000 fine to HobbyKing for marketing unauthorized (and in some cases not capable of being authorized) audio/video (“AV”) transmitters for use with drone mounted cameras, the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC’s” or “Commission’s”) Enforcement Bureau issued an Advisory Tuesday reminding retailer manufacturers, and operators of their obligations:  no marketing or operation of unauthorized equipment except under very limited exceptions.

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On November 2, 2017, the FCC’s revised equipment authorization rules were published in the Federal Register and took effect immediately.  Our advisory details those rule revisions.  The Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) had earlier determined that the new rules included no changes to the existing information collection requirements that required further OMB review before they could take effect.
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The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”), at its July 13, 2017, Open Meeting updated its equipment authorization procedures and rules in a number of ways that will be of great interest to everyone in the supply chain for both licensed and unlicensed radio frequency (“RF”) equipment, including manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers.  The First Report and Order changes the regulatory landscape applicable to the approval, labeling, and other compliance matters for RF equipment in a variety of ways that will take place immediately upon publication of the First Report and Order in the Federal Register except that some will be delayed to the extent they implicate Office of Management and Budget, OMB, review of new or modified information collection requirements.

We examine the First Report and Order and the principal changes in more detail in the referenced advisory. 
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Imported Radio Frequency (RF) devices must be compliant with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC or Commission) equipment authorization rules, but importers can look forward to some relief in their paperwork next year.  These entities will receive a 6-month and possibly longer break from filing FCC Form 740 (Form 740) documentation with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or the FCC.  Today, the FCC published a Suspension Order in the Federal Register announcing it will temporarily waive the filing requirements associated with Form 740 on imported RF devices, effective July 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016. 
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On August 6, 2015, a summary of the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC’s”) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) proposing changes to further streamline the FCC’s equipment authorizations procedures was published in the Federal Register.   The NPRM seeks comment on several proposals to update and modify the rules governing the procedures Radiofrequency (“RF”) devices must satisfy

iStock_000036215158LargeLast week, the Federal Communications Commission (“Commission”) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) seeking comment on several proposals to update and modify the rules governing the procedures Radiofrequency (“RF”) devices must satisfy prior to being marketed.  Comments are due September 8, 2015 and reply comments are due September 21, 2015.

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In an earlier blog post, we reported on the Federal Communications Commission’s December 30, 2014, decision to expand the role of Telecommunications Certifications Bodies (“TCBs”), requiring them to process all applications for transmitters and other equipment subject to the certification procedure.  The FCC’s Order was recently published in the Federal Register, establishing the effective

Just before the New Year, the Commission released revised equipment authorization rules providing that Telecommunications Certifications Bodies (“TCBs”) will soon process and grant all applications for certification.  As set forth in the Report and Order released December 30, 2014, although the Office of Engineering and Technology (“OET”) of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) will cease accepting and granting applications for Certification upon the rules’ effective date, OET will still administer pre-approval guidance pursuant to codification of its “permit but ask” procedures. Those procedures will be extended to all RF devices currently on OET’s exclusion list which has reserved a changing list of device types for Commission-only certification.  Under the pre-approval guidance process, OET will continue to exercise oversight by identifying the types of devices for which a TCB will be required to consult with OET before the TCB can issue a grant of certification.  Future changes to the list of devices subject to the pre-approval guidance will be made via Commission/OET decision documents and OET’s Knowledge Database, in much the same way as the periodically changing exclusion list has been maintained to date.  In this way, the FCC intends to preserve its control over the authorization of devices with a greater potential for causing harmful interference while facilitating a greater responsibility for TCBs.

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A recently adopted Consent Decree entered into between the Enforcement Bureau (“Bureau”) and Wal-Mart.com USA leaves no doubt that retailers are advised to be aware of their regulatory responsibilities for the electronics they offer for sale, whether on their physical shelves or on their website.   Those responsibilities essentially require retailers to be the pro-active policemen of their suppliers’ compliance with the Commission’s equipment authorization rules.  In return for selling wireless microphones without equipment authorization manufactured by ne vendor and for failing to provide a consumer alert regarding conditions of operation at the point of sale for these devices as required in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) rules, the on-line retailer agreed to pay $120,000 and submitted to a three-year compliance plan regarding the offering for sale of all radio frequency devices within the United States.
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