FCC Sanctions RF Equipment Supplier and Threatens to Disqualify Future Violators from Marketing Their Devices in the U.S.

Today the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) issued an Order and Consent Decree, imposing a steep fine and other sanctions on a manufacturer/distributor of LED light fixtures who failed to comply with the FCC’s radiofrequency (“RF”) equipment authorization rules before marketing a line of light fixtures.  The devices reportedly caused interference to radio transmissions, which resulted in the FCC conducting an investigation of the manufacturer.

After the manufacturer fixed the interference problem and proactively complied with the FCC’s RF equipment rules, the FCC agreed to a consent decree to resolve the case.  Specifically, the FCC agreed to terminate the investigation in exchange for the manufacturer agreeing to pay $90,000 to the U.S. Treasury and implement a strict compliance program.

The FCC also issued a threat to future RF equipment manufacturers and other responsible parties who market unauthorized equipment.   Specifically, the FCC asserted its authority to conduct hearings and declare non-compliant RF equipment suppliers unqualified to hold any type of FCC authorization.

In other words, the FCC threatened to prevent RF equipment suppliers who violate FCC rules from ever legally marketing their products in the U.S., by denying them equipment certifications.

This is a critically important development.  Because virtually all devices that generate RF energy (even passive devices such as sensors) are subject to FCC rules, this case underscores the importance of ensuring full compliance with FCC rules prior to marketing (including advertising) RF equipment.

IoT Attorney Ronald E. Quirk, is head of the Internet of Things & Connected Devices Practice Group  at Marashlian & Donahue PLLC, The CommLaw Group, where he focuses his practice on the serving the comprehensive needs of the burgeoning and complex Internet of Things industry, including: contracts and commercial law, privacy & cybersecurity, spectrum access, equipment authorization, tax, regulatory compliance planning, and more.  His career has spanned more than 20 years, including several years at AMLAW 100 firms and the FCC.  He can be reached at req@commlawgroup.com or (703) 714-1305.

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