Radio Frequency (RF) Emitting Devices

Companies have legal and regulatory compliance obligations in the telecommunications space that apply to, not just the services, but the physical property, devices, and infrastructure of the telecom networks. Radio Frequency (RF) devices are required to be properly authorized pursuant to the rules of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) before being marketed or imported into the United States. 

The FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) administers the equipment authorization program, which entails several steps before an RF device can be legally marketed This program is one of the principal ways the FCC ensures that RF devices used in the United States operate effectively without causing harmful interference and otherwise comply with rules. All RF devices subject to equipment authorization must comply with the Commission’s technical requirements prior to importation or marketing in the U.S. 

Equipment must be authorized in accordance with the appropriate procedures specified RF devices law, in Part 2 of the FCC's rules. These requirements not only minimize the potential for harmful interference, but also ensure that the equipment complies with the rules that address other policy objectives – such as human RF exposure limits and hearing aid compatibility (HAC) with wireless handsets.

The FCC has two different approval procedures for equipment authorization – Certification and Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity (SDoC). The required procedure depends on the type of equipment being authorized as specified in the applicable rule part. In some instances, a device may have different functions resulting in the device being subject to more than one type of approval procedure.

Any RF equipment supplier that fails to properly test, authorize, and label its equipment before marketing it in the U.S. is subject to FCC enforcement which could result in substantial monetary sanctions and removal the devices from the market until the suppler can demonstrate compliance with the applicable rules.

With the explosion of new RF devices entering the U.S. market, and changes in the rules, the FCC has been cracking down on RF equipment rule violators. Accordingly, it is critical that suppliers work with an attorney or consultant with specialized knowledge of the FCC's equipment marketing rules and enforcement proceedings.   

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