What the FCC Certification Process Actually Looks Like in Practice

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Is your company going to be releasing new and groundbreaking technology or hardware soon? Here’s what the FCC certification process actually looks like.

Fact: products that emit radiofrequency energy has to be tested and certified before it is allowed to be sold in the U.S.?

Is your company releasing a new technology or product? Read this guide to learn what the FCC certification process looks like.

FCC Compliance
The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, regulates all interstate and international communications by radio, TV, satellite, wire, and cable. The FCC is a U.S. government agency that focuses on communications law, regulation, and technological innovation.

After your product is authorized by the FCC then your product can be sold to consumers. This process will test your device to see if it interferes with other devices or equipment. It also must meet the telecommunications standards of the United States.

Getting Started
A good rule of thumb is that any electronic device with the ability to oscillate above 9kHz must go through the FCC testing process. There are of course a few acceptions to this rule. If you begin to sell your product to consumers without approval you can be fined or even have your profits seized.

These products are intentional or unintentional radiators of radio frequency. A smartphone is an example of an intentional radiator. They broadcast radio energy as part of their operating process.
Some unintentional radiators are electronics such as a digital camera. They send signals and broadcast through space or power lines as a by-product of their operating process.

These devices are broken down into 2 testing categories: Class A and Class B.
⦁ Class A devices are used in industrial, commercial, or engineering settings.
⦁ Class B devices are for consumers and may have stricter limits.

Once your product is ready to be sold to customers, it is time to go through the FCC authorization process. This is when it will be tested to see if it interferes with any existing equipment. There are 3 options for FCC approval:

⦁ Verification
⦁ Declaration of Conformity
⦁ Certification

Let’s look at each of these options in greater detail.

The Verification Process
The verification procedure is used for digital services that do not contain radio or they contain a radio that has been preapproved. A preapproved radio can be integrated within the guidelines set forth by the FCC’s grant authorization.

These devices are tested by a manufacturer or a laboratory to see how much radiofrequency is being radiated. When the device is found to be at an acceptable level the device receives the FCC mark of approval. An example of a product that may require the verification process would be a common TV receiver.

Now, this device has been cleared to be sold to customers in the U.S market. Follow a tech hub to see all the device applications that have been made public by the FCC. It’s a great way of seeing what products are coming out before they are even on the market.

The Declaration of Conformity Process
A declaration of conformity is a much stricter process. This is required for devices such as a personal computer or personal computer peripherals such as a scanner or printer. Your product must be sent to an accredited laboratory to be tested.

The lab will measure how much radiofrequency is released from your product. Your product must meet strict technical standards to be FCC compliant.

In addition to these standards, your product may require the equipment to be verified by the manufacturer or importer, be authorized under the Declaration of conformity, or receive a grant of certification from a telecommunication certification body.

The following is a list of products that need to go through the Declaration of Conformity process.
⦁ CB receiver
⦁ Super regenerative receiver
⦁ All other receivers
⦁ Cable system terminal devices
⦁ TV interface devices
⦁ Personal computers and peripherals
⦁ CPU boards and internal power supplies used with personal computers

A testing report along with any other additional documentation will be kept on file with the FCC. If you have a device that fits into one of these categories you will need to prepare a Declaration of Conformity (DoC) and include any product literature.

Be sure to include the user’s manual when you are sending off the deice for testing. Compliant products also receive an FCC logo on their packaging.

FCC Certification

The most strict authorization is known as the FCC certification. This process is reserved for equipment that is most likely to interfere with other equipment and signals. FCC certifications are issued by Certification bodies. Once a product proved to be FCC compliant it will receive an ID on its label as well.

Obtaining the FCC certification is difficult so just take it one step at a time.

Step by Step: The FCC Certification Process
Step 1: Educate yourself on what frequencies are legally open to you and your equipment. Be sure to consider the radio range, size, energy consumption, propagation, and optimization.

Step 2: Go ahead and start testing your product as it is being developed. Perform as many compliance tests in-house to see where you stand. This will prevent major surprises from springing up down the line.

Step 3: Register with the FCC and get your FRN, FCC Registration Number. They will ask for your business address and information. You will get this important number and be able to request a mandatory grantee code.

Step 4: Choose an FCC registered testing facility. The lab you choose needs to be experienced in dealing with FCC compliance, responsive to all your testing needs. Check the lab quality, testing facility, and capabilities to make sure you have the right lab for your device.
Labs can vary greatly from one another.

Step 5: Deliver your prototype and its technical specifications to the lab. It may be a good idea for someone from your company to be present during the tests. Testing can last a couple of days or a couple of weeks depending on the product.

Step 6: After a successful test you are ready to file the FCC certification documentation. Sometimes the lab may do this for you so be sure to ask. Once the TCB uploads your information to the FCC database, your product will be approved to be sold on the U.S. market.

Congratulations, on Your New Device
The hard part is over. You have created an awesome new product! With this simple guide in hand about the FCC certification process, you’ll be ready to have your product certified.

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