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Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
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Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

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).


(ET Docket 97-94)

The FCC today adopted streamlining actions to (1) simplify the existing equipment authorization process, (2) move to a system of electronic filing of equipment authorization applications, and (3) deregulate and relax equipment authorization requirements for a wide number of types of equipment that have demonstrated a good record of compliance.

Today's streamlining Order will cut in half the number of equipment authorization applications required to be filed with the Commission - from 3500 to approximately 1800. The FCC said the new procedures will result in savings of at least $100 million to manufacturers of the products covered by the changes, including large and small manufacturers. The FCC said it hoped the simplified procedures would help encourage the development of new, innovative products that could benefit consumers.

The FCC said it plans to initiate another rule making in the near future to further streamline the equipment authorization process by: (1) allowing parties other than the FCC to certify equipment, and (2) implementing mutual recognition agreements on testing and approval to promote international trade of telecommunications products.

Equipment authorization ensures that radio transmitters and other equipment meet standards to minimize their potential to cause interference to radio services. The equipment authorization process is based on a written application and test results submitted by the manufacturer or other responsible party.

The Commission reduced from five to three the number of different equipment authorization procedures: Certification, where applications are sent to the FCC, and two manufacturer self-authorization programs, Declaration of Conformity, and Verification. The Notification program was eliminated, and the Type Acceptance program was combined in the Certification program.

The Commission said implementation of an electronic filing system will significantly reduce processing time by improving efficiency, such as by allowing simultaneous processing of both administrative and technical reviews. The Commission said it expected to complete testing of the system this Spring and could be in service by May 1998. The Commission said it would initially accept dual paper and electronically filed applications to allow manufacturers to become familiar with the new system, but would mandate electronic filing one year after the effective date of the rules.

Deregulatory items in today's Order include:

  • relaxing from Certification to the Declaration of Conformity self-approval procedure for Part 15 TV interface devices, radio receivers (except scanning receivers), and Cable System Terminal Devices;

  • changing approval of Part 18 consumer ISM (industrial, scientific, medical equipment) equipment from Certification to Declaration of Conformity;

  • changing approval procedures from the Notification requirement to the Verification requirement for a series of delineated transmitters, including: Part 5 wildlife tracking and ocean buoys, Part 101 point-to-point microwave transmitters, Part 74 Auxiliary Broadcast aural relays and boosters, Part 78 Cable Television Relay fixed transmitters, Part 80 INMARSAT equipment, and Part 87 406 MHz emergency locator transmitters.

Action by the Commission April 2, 1998, by Report and Order, (FCC 98-58). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell and Tristani, with Commissioner Ness issuing a separate statement.

- FCC -

News Media Contact: David Fiske (202) 418-0513
Office of Engineering & Technology Contact: Hugh Van Tuyl (202) 418-7506.

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April 2, 1998

Separate Statement
Commissioner Susan Ness

Re: Amendment of Parts 2, 15, 18 and Other Parts of the Commission's Rules to Simplify and Streamline the Equipment Authorization Process for Radio Frequency Equipment

Our predecessor agency, the Federal Radio Commission, was established in 1927. The raison d'etre for that commission was the need to prevent harmful interference to services using the airwaves. Managing the spectrum to prevent interference remains one of this agency's most important priorities today.

In the digital age, an extraordinary number of devices have the potential to improve the quality of life. Many of these same devices also have the potential to cause harmful interference. This interference may degrade consumers' radio and TV reception, or it may jeopardize air traffic control systems, police and fire communications, or other services essential to public safety. That's why we have technical specifications for intentional and unintentional radiators -- to ensure that new products can continue to be designed without jeopardizing radio communications.

How can we best ensure compliance with these rules -- without unnecessarily impeding the flow of useful products into the marketplace? That's what this item is about.

In the past, we have liberalized equipment authorization procedures for products which were determined to present minimal risk of causing harmful interference. We are extending that liberalization today. A proceeding is already on the drawing board to take that process a step further -- to allow other organizations, instead of the Commission, to certify products.

I strongly support reducing unnecessary paperwork and delays. But we must not diminish our commitment to prevent harmful interference to authorized radio communications. Whatever our equipment authorization procedures, there will remain a danger that some products will not be designed to minimize the danger of interference. And there will also remain a problem of individuals who construct or operate transmitting devices with disregard for our rules.

Our responsibility to prevent harmful interference can only be fulfilled if we are prepared to follow through with credible enforcement. I sincerely hope that agency resources that are freed up, by today's order and by the third-party certification rulemaking, will be redirected to enforcement activities, so that instances of harmful interference can be swiftly remedied.

- FCC -