The FCC will take public comments on a proposal to update its RF device rules. The agency Thursday voted to modernize equipment authorization rules to grant limited, early-stage flexibility to innovators to speed the deployment of common consumer devices like cell phones, laptops, and WiFi routers after FCC authorization.
The Commission acted in response to a request from the Consumer Technology Association earlier this year.
Commissioners said the proposals will allow RF device manufacturers and marketers to better position their devices for sale and distribution once a device has been authorized by the agency. Right now, the FCC only allows a limited number of new devices to be imported and marketed before authorization — for trade show displays, for example.
Specifically, the agency wants to allow limited marketing and sale of wireless devices to consumers before authorization. Equipment authorization ensures new wireless equipment is tested and meets Commission technical standards. The requirements ensure devices operate at appropriate power levels, and on the correct spectrum bands, without interfering with other devices.
Outgoing FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said he “strongly advocated” for such changes. He said they make sense, since there are pre-sale periods for the next novel or a car. “It’s not a great leap to suggest this practice for communications devices.”
The updates would get devices into consumers’ hands sooner and help manufacturers plan, he said, calling the process of getting from a concept to a final product “arduous.”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai agreed, adding it’s important for FCC rules to keep up with “rapid product production.” The changes, he said are a “thoughtful balance” in updating the rules “but also protect consumers.”
The Commission last modified the procedures in 2017.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
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