How will the new FCC 14-208 changes impact testing for wireless products?
On December 30, 2014, the FCC released a report, FCC 14-208 (ET Docket No. 13-44), which includes a number of significant changes to FCC Parts 0, 1, 2, and 15 regarding authorization of RF equipment, as well as FCC Part 68 regarding approval of terminal equipment by the Telecommunication Certification Bodies (TCB). Scheduled to go in effect on January 30, 2015 (30 days after release of the report), there are a number of critical changes that manufacturers of wireless products need to be aware of. We will attempt to walk you through the key changes, and explain what impact they may have for your organization.
FCC will require test labs to be accredited in order to perform FCC Certification or DoC Testing
Historically, test data for FCC Certification or DoC applications could be submitted by labs that were either accredited, or listed under FCC Part 2.948. Accredited laboratories, such as LSR’s EMC facilities, undergo a stringent accreditation process to the requirements of ISO 17025. Accredited labs must also complete a re-assessment every 2 years to retain their accreditation. Moving forward the FCC and TCB’s will NOT be accepting test data from listed laboratories for FCC Certifications or DoC reports.
All labs that are currently not accredited will have a 1 year grace period to achieve accreditation. The FCC will allow data from listed labs for a grace period of 15 months. In addition to the rigorous accreditation process, this may require additional investments in site capabilities, lab equipment, and personnel in order to meet the standards. Therefore, it is possible that a number of listed laboratories may choose not to pursue accreditation. If you are unsure if the lab you have historically used for your FCC testing is currently accredited, you can determine that from the FCC’s website, here.
Where this change is likely to have its strongest impact is on the use of international testing laboratories. The same accreditation requirements will apply for international laboratories. Previously, many of the laboratories in international countries were not on the FCC’s list of accredited laboratories. For example, in some places like China, none of the laboratories are on the FCC’s accredited laboratories list. In the future, unless the country the lab is located in has an MRA (Mutual Recognition Agreement) in place with the FCC, such as EU, Japan and a few other countries, or has laboratories recognized as accredited by the FCC commission, they will no longer be able to provide test data that will be accepted for Certifications or DoC’s. For a complete list of countries with an MRA in place with the FCC, click here.
It’s important to note that this change does not apply for FCC Verification testing, which is the level of testing required for electric products that do not intentionally transmit wireless data or feature the FCC logo on its product packaging. In those instances, listed labs can continue to provide the verification testing.
FCC is giving TCB’s authority to process and grant all applications for FCC certification
For any product containing a wireless radio, FCC certification is required for marketing of the product in the US. For quite some time, TCB’s have done the lion’s share of processing and granting applications for FCC certification, with just a small % being handled by the FCC directly. This was especially the case when the product was utilizing an emerging technology. Moving forward, all applications will be handled by TCBs. For emerging technologies, a new “Pre-Grant Approval Process” has been defined for the TCBs to follow.
What do these changes mean for LSR customers?
These changes will have minimal impact for customers of LSR’s EMC Testing division, as LSR has been ISO/IEC 17025 accredited since 1997, and already has an established and strong relationships with its TCB.
LSR is focused on providing the highest level of support and expertise for FCC testing, and is committed to remaining your trusted partner for these services moving forward amidst these changes. Should you have questions about current or future projects, please reach out to an LSR account manager to discuss further.