Vitec Group Fined for Displaying Unapproved Transmitter

Did you happen to notice the "CellCom Digital Wireless Intercom" at last year's NAB? Someone did and notified the FCC in May 2005. The complaint sparked an investigation in which the commission eventually found that Vitec Group Communications Ltd. had apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Section 302(b) of the Communications Act and Section 2.803(a)(2) of the FCC's rules by marketing unauthorized radio frequency devices in the U.S.

The FCC found that Vitec advertised the CellCom Digital Wireless Intercom in the April 2005 issue of Broadcast Engineering and also displayed it at the NAB2005 in Las Vegas. Digital wireless intercom systems like the CellCom model are classified as intentional radiators and must be approved through FCC equipment certification procedures before being marketed.

The FCC was able to easily verify that Vitec showed the device at NAB2005--pictures of it at NAB were posted on Vitec's Web site. Further, the specifications on the Web site showed the device was capable of operating in the 1880 to 1930 MHz frequency range. In the U.S., wireless intercoms are limited to 1920 to 1930 MHz. Vitec has disputed the FCC's "incorrect allegation" that the wireless system was ineligible for equipment certification, since it was certified by the FCC on Nov. 2, 2005. Responding to an FCC letter, Vitec acknowledged that the system, through password-protected software, is capable of being programmed for use outside the U.S. on frequencies outside the 1920 to 1930 MHz band. Vitec asserted, however, that it is not possible for U.S. users to operate on frequencies outside the U.S. band because the passwords for the software are only provided to authorized dealers. While admitting that it advertised the ClearCom intercom system before equipment certification was granted, Vitec claimed it did not "market" it.

The FCC did not accept these arguments. In the Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (DA 06-861), it said the definition of "marketing" in Section 2.803(e)(4) specifically includes "advertising."