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Stores Cited for Selling Non-compliant Wireless Security Cameras after Sprint Complains

The FCC cited Wal-Mart Stores (PDF) and Costco Warehouse Corporation (PDF) for selling Astak Model CM-918T2 wireless security cameras. FCC Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) Laboratory's testing demonstrated these cameras do not comply with the radiated emission limits specified in Part 15 of the FCC rules.

The investigation started in March 2009 when the FCC Enforcement Bureau received a complaint alleging that the Astak CM-918T2 caused harmful interference to Sprint-Nextel's licensed operation of its iDEN network in the 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands. The FCC found that Wal-Mart was advertising the CM-918T2 on its Web site and found the device on sale at a Costco Warehouse store in Brandywine, Md.

The FCC citations did not go into detail on radiated emissions, but noted:

"Intentional radiators, such as the transmitter component of the Astak CM-918T2 wireless security camera, are generally required by Section 15.201 of the Rules, to be approved through the equipment certification procedures described in Sections 2.1031 – 2.1060 of the Rules prior to marketing within the United States. As an intentional radiator operating at 905 MHz and 924 MHz, the Astak CM-918T2 is also subject to the radiated emission limits specified in Section 15.249(a) of the Rules for operations within the 902-928 MHz band. In addition, pursuant to Section 15.249(d) of the Rules, except for harmonics, emissions from the Astak CM-918T2 radiated outside the 902-928 MHz band must be attenuated by at least 50 dB below the level of the fundamental frequency or to the general radiated emission limits specified in Section 15.209 of the Rules, whichever is the lesser attenuation. The OET Laboratory's tests demonstrate that radiated emissions from the Astak CM-918T2 outside the 902-928 MHz band substantially exceed the limits specified in Section 15.209 of the Rules. Therefore, the Astak CM-918T2 does not comply with the radiated emission limits specified in Sections 15.249(d) and 15.209 of the Rules."

It is encouraging to see the FCC moving quickly to stop the sale of unlicensed devices that cause interference to licensed services, but I wonder how long CM-918T2 cameras sold before the FCC issued citations to Costco and Wal-Mart will remain in service, creating interference to iDEN users. If a manufacturer takes similar short-cuts on TV band devices (aka "white space devices"), I'd be concerned about the interference they would cause to adjacent channel TV reception. The FCC has promised a rigorous certification process for TV band devices. From what we've seen in the Astak case, it will be needed!

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.