The FCC has long permitted devices employing relatively low level radio frequency signals (“Part 15 devices”), such as garage door openers, cordless telephones, personal computers, and computer peripherals, to be operated without the need for a spectrum license. While such operations are unlicensed, the devices themselves are not unregulated. The FCC’s rules require that the manufacturer or importer of such devices (the “responsible party”) obtain equipment authorization before marketing any such device in order to minimize the potential for harmful radiofrequency interference. Failure to obtain proper equipment authorization can result in monetary forfeitures and/or other sanctions. The FCC routinely investigates Part 15 rule violations and, as an example, recently issued a notice of apparent liability in the amount of $1,000,000 against one alleged violator.
A PDF version of this entire article can be found at Unlicensed But Not Unregulated: An Overview of the FCC’s Regulations Regarding Part 15 Devices.