AboCom Systems Cited for Wireless Access Point Spurious Emissions

One of the concerns broadcasters have with unlicensed devices using vacant TV channels is that if devices sold create interference, there will be no way to recall them. Recent problems with unlicensed Part 15 devices emitting signals on unauthorized frequencies highlight the problem, but also show the FCC, once it becomes aware of the problem, can take remedial action.

In recent editions of RF Report, after receiving reader comments, I outlined problems with FM transmitters sold to transmit satellite radio receiver and personal audio player signals to nearby FM receivers. Some of these devices were found to transmit on a frequency close to the TV channel 6 subcarrier frequency, which is not authorized. Other devices were found to operate at power levels well above what the FCC allows. The FCC has recently acted to prohibit the sale of these devices.

In the latest incident, AboCom Systems received a Notice of Apparent Liability For Forfeiture for marketing wireless access points that do not comply with the terms of its equipment authorization. The FCC Office of Engineering and Technology Laboratory tested samples of the Hawking HWRG54 access point, which AboCom manufactured for Hawking, and found that it produced a spurious emission at 2.6 GHz that substantially exceeded the limit specified by Section 15.247(d) of the rules. The laboratory also found that the HWRG54 was capable of operating on frequencies outside the 2.412 to 2.482 GHz range authorized. Two samples of the HWRG54 were tested and both had a spurious signal at 2.6 GHz exceeding FCC limits.

In the notice, the FCC said that when AboCom accepted the grant of an equipment authorization, the company warranted that each unit marketed under terms of the grant would conform to that of the unit that was submitted to the FCC for measurement.

The apparent liability for these violations was set at $25,000. The FCC document said that it was believed that an upward adjustment of the $7,000 base forfeiture amount was warranted due to the substantial number of non-compliant devices AboCom sold and distributed to Hawking and Phoebe. The adjustment was also influenced by the fact that the violations continued over a 17-month period. The FCC also took into account AboCom's ability to pay forfeiture in determining the forfeiture amount. As the commission made clear in the Forfeiture Policy Statement, large or highly profitable entities, such as AboCom, could expect forfeitures higher than those reflected in the base amounts.

Unfortunately, there is no way for either the manufacturer or the FCC to retrieve all of the devices sold and eliminates the potential interference from the spurious signals they produce.

Footnotes in the notice include additional information on the rules regarding spurious emissions from devices such as the HWRG54 and the fines violating FCC rules.