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.