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FCC Clarifies Testing Lab Recognition Process and Extends Transition Period for Labs to Meet New Requirements

The FCC recently released a Memorandum Opinion and Order and Order on Reconsideration (“MO&O”), implementing a process for recognizing certain testing lab accrediting bodies, and clarifying its procedures for recognizing accreditation of a class of laboratories that were “de-authorized” from performing compliance testing of radiofrequency (“RF”) equipment under new FCC rules adopted last year.  The FCC also extended the transition period for non-accredited labs to comply with the new rules.

The new rules disallow the use of test results from foreign and domestic non-accredited “2.948-listed” labs for equipment certification, and require that all test results used in the certification process be provided by FCC-accredited labs only.  Many manufacturers have utilized one or more of the nearly 600 existing 2.948-listed labs for several years.  If those labs do not achieve accreditation by the end of the FCC’s transition period, manufacturers that continue to use their test results could have their certification applications rejected and/or be liable for steep fines and other sanctions by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau.

The FCC’s original transition plan mandated that no later than July 13, 2016, all 2.948-listed labs’ authority would expire.   As of October 12, 2016, no further test report from such labs, foreign or domestic, would be accepted for devices tested before the expiration deadline.

By the end of the transition period all U.S. labs that provide test results for equipment certification must be accredited by an FCC-recognized accreditation body.  Foreign labs must be accredited by a “designating authority” recognized by the FCC under the terms of a government-to-government Mutual Recognition Agreement (“MRA”).  Labs located in one of the many countries that does not have an MRA with the U.S. must be accredited by an entity recognized by the FCC for performing accreditation in the subject country.

Until the release of the MO&O, the FCC had no process for labs accredited in non-MRA countries, which meant that at the end of the transition period, manufacturers would no longer be able to utilize test results from those labs to certify RF devices for sale in the U.S.  In the MO&O, the FCC announced the issuance of detailed guidance and procedures for:  (a) recognition of accreditation bodies that certify testing labs in non-MRA countries; and (b) recognition of accredited testing labs. 

The FCC also announced a one-year extension of the transition deadline.   Specifically, the FCC will continue to recognize 2.948-listed labs until July 12, 2017, and test results completed by 2.948-listed labs will be accepted until October 12, 2017.

The CommLaw Group will continue to closely monitor this proceeding.  If you would like additional Information about the proceeding, including detailed information about the recognition procedures discussed herein; or to obtain a hard copy of a comprehensive Global RF Equipment Regulatory Compliance Guide, please contact IoT Attorney Ronald E. Quirk, Jr. at (703) 714-1305 or req@commlawgroup.com.

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