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Federal Communications Commission
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Washington, D.C. 20554
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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

Report No. GN 98-13 GENERAL ACTION December 17, 1998

(GEN. DOCKET 98-68)

As part of its biennial review of its rules and processes, the FCC has modified its authorization rules for devices that emit radio frequency energy and for terminal equipment that may be attached to the telecommunications network. These modifications are intended to improve the efficiency of the equipment approval process so that communications equipment may be introduced more rapidly.

    Specifically, the FCC amended its rules to:

  1. further streamline the equipment authorization process by allowing accredited private parties in the United States designated by the FCC to certify that equipment;
  2. implement Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) that would allow the designation of parties in foreign countries to approve equipment as conforming to the United States' technical requirements; and
  3. make provision for the interim approval of Global Mobile Personal Communications by Satellite (GMPCS) mobile terminals.

The Commission noted that certain equipment that uses radio frequencies or is connected to the public switched telecommunications network (PSTN) must be approved by the FCC before it can be marketed. Allowing parties other than the FCC to certify that equipment complies with our rules will provide manufacturers with alternatives where they could possibly obtain certification faster than from the FCC. Manufacturers also will have the option of obtaining certification from a facility in a more convenient location. Because the number of applications filed with the FCC will likely decrease as a result of its action today, the Commission will redirect resources to enforcement of its rules. Finally, allowing private entities in the U.S. to certify that equipment meets the FCC's rules would parallel the FCC's obligations under the MRAs to allow equipment to be certified by parties located in other countries.

The United States has entered into agreements with the European Community (EC) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). MRAs provide numerous benefits for the United States. Under an MRA, products can be tested and certified in the United States to the technical requirements of other countries. The products may then be shipped directly to those countries without the need to obtain an approval there. In return, the MRAs obligate the United States to permit parties in other countries to test and authorize equipment based on the United States' technical requirements. MRAs thereby ensure market access and promote competition in the provision of telecommunications products and electronic equipment. Further, the MRAs serve to reduce the burden and delays of testing and obtaining approval for products marketed in the United States and other countries.

In February 1997, the United States agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Arrangements to facilitate the roaming of GMPCS mobile terminals worldwide without confiscation, tariffs or taxation.

The Commission will soon begin consideration of full implementation of the GMPCS MOU and Arrangements. However, adoption of this interim certification procedure will enable planned GMPCS systems and those currently in operation to obtain an FCC identifier in order to facilitate the global circulation of GMPCS terminals and allow GMPCS users to obtain seamless GMPCS service in all parts of the world.

Action by the Commission December 17, 1998, by Report and Order (FCC 98-338). Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth issuing a statement.


News Media contact: Audrey Spivack at (202) 418-0500
Office of Engineering and Technology contact: Hugh L. Van Tuyl, (202) 418-7506
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International Bureau contact: Tracey Weisler, (202) 418-0744