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FCC Cites Canadian Company for Shipping Transmitters without FCC Certification

It is very easy to order products direct from China and other countries and, depending on the description on the customs form, they may not be checked for compliance with FCC rules. One company selling transmitters operating in the 2.4 GHz band for use in model aircraft found out that just because they are located in a different country they are not exempt from FCC rules when it comes to selling transmitters to U.S. customers.

The FCC issued a Citation for illegal marketing of unauthorized frequency devices capable of operating on restricted frequencies to New Generation Hobbies. In addition to some really interesting Mikrokopter kits, the web site also has a variety of transmitters for use in the model aircraft, including a variety of transmitters operating on bands from 900 MHz to 5.8 GHz.

In its initial response to the FCC, Next Generation Hobbies indicated it purchases these two devices from a manufacturer in Taiwan and does not export them to the United States. Rather, Next Generation claimed it sells these devices online via its web site and maintains that "the customer who makes the purchase is the importer."

These units are capable of operating on 2410 MHz, 2430 MHz, 2450 MHz, 2470 MHz, 2370 MHz, 2390 MHz, 2490 MHz and 2510 MHz. While Next Generation Hobbies has a disclaimer on their web site noting that in some countries not all frequencies may be used and that a license may be needed on others at these power levels, the FCC emphasized "that it is insufficient and misleading for manufacturers and retailers, like New Generation, to include a disclaimer on their websites stating or implying that U.S. consumers bear sole responsibility for complying with the applicable legal obligations. Such disclaimers are misleading because they fail to disclose that entities offering unauthorized devices are also violating the Communications Act and the Rules."

The FCC did not issue a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture to Next Generation Hobbies but warned the company that "after receipt of this Citation, New Generation violates the Communications Act or the Rules by engaging in conduct of the type described herein, the Commission may impose monetary forfeitures of up to $16,000 for each violation or each day of continuing violation and up to $112,500 for any single act or failure to act." The Citation also noted that violations of the Communications Act or the Rules "can result in seizure of equipment through in rem forfeiture actions, as well as criminal sanctions, including imprisonment."

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.