The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) is seeking comment on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that would modify certain aspects of the FCC’s device authorization rules.  Specifically, the FCC is seeking comment on a proposed revision to its device authorization rules to allow the importation of limited quantities of radiofrequency (“RF”) devices prior to authorization for pre-sale activities, including imaging, packaging, and delivery to retail locations.  The FCC also is proposing rule revisions that would allow conditional sales, but not delivery, of RF devices to consumers prior to authorization.

The FCC’s current rules generally prohibit the manufacture, importation, marketing, or sale of any RF device unless that device has been determined to meet FCC rules concerning authorization, identification and labeling, and recordkeeping.  Although the authorization requirements to some extent vary depending on the class of RF device, the FCC’s rules generally provide two different approval procedures:  Certification and Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity (“SDoC”).  Certification, the more rigorous approval process, requires emissions and interference testing by an FCC-recognized accredited testing laboratory.  SDoC requires the party responsible for compliance to ensure that the device complies with appropriate technical standards.  The NPRM, which the FCC adopted by unanimous vote on December 10, proposes to revise the device rules to allow the importation and conditional marketing and sales of RF devices that have not yet been determined to meet these authorization requirements.

First, the NPRM proposes to revise the FCC’s rules to allow the importation of up to 4,000 RF devices prior to authorization for pre-sale activities, including imaging, packaging, and delivery to retail locations.  These pre-sale activities would not, however, allow the display of devices to consumers prior to authorization.  These proposed rule revisions also would apply only to devices subject to Certification, not SDoC.

Second, the NPRM proposes to allow conditional sales—but not delivery—to consumers prior to device authorization.  Currently, the FCC’s rules permit conditional sales only to wholesalers and retailers.

The NPRM’s proposed rule revisions are consistent with a Petition for Rulemaking filed by the Consumer Technology Association (“CTA”) last June.  As we discussed in our earlier post, CTA’s petition urged the FCC to revise its device authorization rules and sought an interim waiver of the current rules.  Although the NPRM grants the petition by initiating a rulemaking, it rejects CTA’s request for an interim waiver.

Comments on the NPRM are due February 11, with reply comments due February 26.

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Photo of Yaron Dori Yaron Dori

Yaron Dori has over 20 years of experience in telecommunications, privacy, and consumer protection law, advising telecom, technology, life sciences, media and other types of companies on their most pressing business challenges. He is a former chair of the Communications and Media practice…

Yaron Dori has over 20 years of experience in telecommunications, privacy, and consumer protection law, advising telecom, technology, life sciences, media and other types of companies on their most pressing business challenges. He is a former chair of the Communications and Media practice group and currently serves as a member of the firm’s eight-person Management Committee.

Yaron’s practice focuses on strategic planning, policy development, transactions, investigations and enforcement, and regulatory compliance.

He represents clients before federal regulatory agencies—including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)—and the U.S. Congress in connection with a range of policy issues under the Communications Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act, and similar statutes. He also represents clients on state regulatory and enforcement matters, including those that pertain to telecommunications and data privacy regulation. His unique experience in telecommunications, privacy, and consumer protection enables him to advise clients on key business issues in which these areas intersect.

With respect to telecommunications matters, Yaron advises clients on a broad range of business, policy and consumer-facing issues, including:

  • Broadband deployment and regulation;
  • IP-enabled applications, services and content;
  • Equipment and device authorization procedures;
  • The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA);
  • Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) requirements;
  • The Cable Privacy Act
  • Net Neutrality; and
  • Local competition, universal service, and intercarrier compensation.

Yaron also has extensive experience in structuring transactions and securing regulatory approvals at both the federal and state levels for mergers, asset acquisitions and similar transactions involving large and small FCC and state licensees.

With respect to privacy and consumer protection matters, Yaron advises clients on a range of business, strategic, policy and compliance issues, including those that pertain to:

  • The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA);
  • The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA);
  • Location-based services that use WiFi, beacons or similar technologies;
  • Online Behavioral Advertising;
  • Online advertising practices, including native advertising and endorsements and testimonials; and
  • The application of federal and state telemarketing, commercial fax, and other consumer protection laws, such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), to voice, text, and video transmissions.

Yaron also has experience advising companies on FCC (Enforcement Bureau), FTC and state attorney general investigations into various consumer protection and communications matters, including those pertaining to social media influencers, digital disclosures, product discontinuance, and advertising claims.

Photo of Gerard J. Waldron Gerard J. Waldron

Gerry Waldron represents communications, media, and technology clients before the Federal Communications Commission and Congress, and in commercial transactions. Mr. Waldron served as chair of the firm’s Communications and Media Practice Group from 1998 to 2008. Prior to joining Covington, Mr. Waldron served…

Gerry Waldron represents communications, media, and technology clients before the Federal Communications Commission and Congress, and in commercial transactions. Mr. Waldron served as chair of the firm’s Communications and Media Practice Group from 1998 to 2008. Prior to joining Covington, Mr. Waldron served as the senior counsel on the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications. During his work for Congress, he was deeply involved in the drafting of the 1993 Spectrum Auction legislation, the 1992 Cable Act, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), CALEA, and key provisions that became part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

Mr. Waldron’s practice includes working closely on strategic and regulatory issues with leading IT companies, high-quality content providers in the broadcasting and sports industries, telephone and cable companies on FCC proceedings, spectrum entrepreneurs, purchasers of telecommunications services, and companies across an array of industries facing privacy, TCPA and online content, gaming, and online gambling and sports betting-related issues.

Mr. Waldron has testified on communications and Internet issues before the FCC, U.S. House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee, the House Judiciary Committee, the Maryland Public Utility Commission, and the Nevada Gaming Commission.