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FCC Cites GPS Re-radiator Distributor, Retailers

The FCC issued GPS Outfitters, Inc. an Official Citation for marketing an unauthorized radio frequency device. The device, the Vortech Re-Radiator GPS Antenna was still shown on the GPS Outfitters web site on April 18.

While technical details on the device were not available, looking at the picture and description on the Web site, it appears the device consists of an amplified GPS antenna connected to a passive (unamplified) GPS antenna at the opposite end of a coax cable. Provided there is sufficient isolation between the amplified antenna and the passive antenna, this setup allows GPS equipment without external antenna inputs to be used in locations where the GPS reception is blocked, such as inside a vehicle or ship. While it would be easy to create a re-radiator using legally obtained components, if the amplified antenna is not sufficiently isolated from the passive antenna the amplified antenna could oscillate, radiating a strong signal in the GPS spectrum that would make it impossible to use GPS anywhere near either antenna.

Due to the low signal strength from GPS satellites and the use of GPS for critical navigation, the FCC is very concerned about any interference on GPS frequencies. Section 15.205(a) of the FCC rules allows intentional radiators to transmit only spurious emissions in restricted frequency bands, which includes those used by GPS. Since the Vortech Re-Radiator was designed to operate in the GPS bands, it would not be capable of being certified under Part 15.

GPS Outfitters and several retailers, including Fogdog, Inc.; Sport Chalet, Inc.; The GPS Store, Inc.; The Sports Authority, Inc.; Dick's Sporting Goods, Inc.; Tweeter Home Entertainment Group; and Wal-Mart were cited for violating Section 2.803(a)(1) of the Communications Act, which provides that "no person shall sell or lease, or offer for sale or lease (including advertising for sale or lease), or import, ship, or distribute for the purpose of selling or leasing or offering for sale or lease, any radio frequency device unless ... undefinedn the case of a device subject to certification, such device has been authorized by the Commission in accordance with the rules in this chapter and is properly identified and labeled as required by § 2.925 and other relevant sections in this chapter." A Google search for "Vortech GPS Re-Radiator" showed many other companies were selling the device.

For more information, click on the links above to see copies of the citations issued to GPS Outfitters and its retailers.