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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20554
April 8, 2005
VIA CERTIFIED MAIL
RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Attn: Houda Nounou, Assistant General Counsel
601 North Walton Blvd.
Bentonville, Arkansas 72716-0710
Re: File No. EB-
Dear Ms. Nounou:
This is an official CITATION, issued pursuant to Section
503(b)(5) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended
(``Communications Act''), 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(5), for marketing an
unauthorized radio frequency device in the United States in
violation of Section 302(b) of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C.
§ 302a(b), and Section 2.803(a) of the Commission's Rules
(``Rules''), 47 C.F.R. § 2.803(a). As explained below, future
violations of the Commission's rules in this regard may subject
your company to monetary forfeitures.
By letter dated February 24, 2005, the Spectrum Enforcement
Division of the Commission's Enforcement Bureau initiated an
investigation into whether Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (``Wal-Mart'')
is marketing in the United States unauthorized radio frequency
devices, specifically, Vortech GPS Antenna Boosters. You
responded by letter dated March 16, 2005.1 In your response, you
stated that Wal-Mart began marketing the Vortech GPS Booster
Antenna in March 2004, that the device was only available through
Walmart.com, and that Wal-Mart has sold 64 units to date.2 You
identified the manufacturer of the device as San Jose Navigation,
Inc., a company headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan, and indicated
that you sourced the product domestically from GPS Outfitters,
You further stated that Wal-Mart recognizes that intentional
radiators as well as unintentional radiators are subject to the
Commission's regulations. You indicated that for products
imported by Wal-Mart, it is the company's policy that products
are reviewed for admissibility into the U.S. Customs territory
and for compliance with U.S. laws and regulations prior to
importation. For domestically sourced products such as the
Vortech GPS Antenna Booster, you asserted that Wal-Mart's
practice is to rely on the assertions made by the supplier that
the product is compliant with all applicable U.S. laws and
regulations. In addition, you asserted that it is Wal-Mart's
practice to use the service of third parties for an independent
review and testing of certain electronic products. You
acknowledged that the Vortech GPS Antenna Booster was not
certified in accordance with Commission rules. Based on your
records, you believe that the Vortech GPS Antenna Booster was not
evaluated for compliance by Wal-Mart and that you simply relied
on the representations made by your supplier.
Section 302(b) of the Act provides that ``[n]o person shall
manufacture, import, sell, offer for sale, or ship devices or
home electronic equipment and systems, or use devices, which fail
to comply with regulations promulgated pursuant to this
section.'' Section 2.803(a)(1) of the Commission's implementing
regulations 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 ... [i]n 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 labelled as required by § 2.925
and other relevant sections in this chapter.
Pursuant to Section 15.201(b) of the Rules, 47 C.F.R. §
15.201(b), intentional radiators, such as the Vortech GPS
Antenna Booster, must be authorized in accordance with the
FCC's certification procedures prior to the initiation of
marketing in the United States. Moreover, the Vortech GPS
Antenna Booster operates in frequency bands used for GPS,
which are within the restricted frequency bands listed in
Section 15.205(a) of the Rules, 47 C.F.R. § 15.205(a).
Section 15.205(a) allows intentional radiators to transmit
only spurious emissions3 in the restricted frequency bands.
Thus, the Vortech GPS Antenna Booster apparently cannot
comply with the FCC's technical standards and therefore
would not be capable of receiving a grant of equipment
certification. Accordingly, it appears that Wal-Mart has
violated Section 302(b) of the Act and Section 2.803(a) of
the Rules by marketing in the United States unauthorized
radio frequency devices.
If, after receipt of this citation, you violate the
Communications Act or the Commission's rules in any manner
described herein, the Commission may impose monetary forfeitures
not to exceed $11,000 for each such violation or each day of a
continuing violation. 4
You may respond to this citation within 30 days from the
date of this letter either through (1) a personal interview at
the Commission's Field Office nearest to your place of business,
or (2) a written statement. Your response should specify the
actions that you are taking to ensure that you do not violate the
Commission's rules governing the marketing of radio frequency
equipment in the future.
The nearest Commission field office appears to be the New
Orleans Office in New Orleans, Louisiana. Please call Neal
McNeil at 202-418-1160 if you wish to schedule a personal
interview. You should schedule any interview to take place
within 30 days of the date of this letter. You should send any
written statement within 30 days of the date of this letter to:
Deputy Chief, Spectrum Enforcement Division
Federal Communications Commission
445-12th Street, S.W., Rm. 7-C802
Washington, D.C. 20554
Under the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(e)(3), we
are informing you that the Commission's staff will use all
relevant material information before it, including information
that you disclose in your interview or written statement, to
determine what, if any, enforcement action is required to ensure
your compliance with the Communications Act and the Commission's
The knowing and willful making of any false statement, or
the concealment of any material fact, in reply to this citation
is punishable by fine or imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. § 1001.
Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation.
Deputy Chief, Spectrum Enforcement
Federal Communications Commission
1 Letter from Houda Nounou, Assistant General Counsel, Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc., to Kathryn S. Berthot, Deputy Chief, Spectrum
Enforcement Division, Enforcement Bureau (March 16, 2005).
2 You also indicated that Wal-Mart has returned its inventory of
54 units to the supplier and permanently discontinued marketing
3 47 C.F.R. § 2.1 defines spurious emissions as ``Emission on a
frequency or frequencies which are outside the necessary
bandwidth and the level of which may be reduced without affecting
the corresponding transmission of information. Spurious emissions
include harmonic emissions, parasitic emissions, intermodulation
products and frequency conversion products, but exclude out-of-
4 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b)(3).