The FCC introduced a Report and order just before the new year that among other things, effectively puts them out of the RF device certification business and permits this activity to be performed solely by private Telecommunication Certification Bodies, also known as TCBs,
The big take away is that the FCC will no longer be certifying products, however also included in this report is a new requirement that all testing be done at an “accredited” lab.
A quote from the report and order;
41. Proposal. In the Notice, the Commission proposed to require that all laboratories that test
equipment subject to Certification or to DoC under any rule part be accredited to ISO/IEC 17025, ending
the “2.948-listing” program for unaccredited labs to test equipment to be certified under Parts 15 and 18
of the rules.
Prior to this order devices subject to certification; such as radio transmitters, could be tested at any listed lab. This listing program is less rigorous and less expensive than full certification. The listing program simply requires that the lab file information with the FCC. In contrast, the accreditation requirement ensures that the the testing laboratory is competent to perform the required work, but it also requires that the laboratory be in a country that is recognized by the FCC, such as one with an established Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) with the United States.
Currently, many companies rely on test data suppled by third party test labs that are not accredited or are in countries which do not have an established MRA with the United States. As an example, there are no laboratories in China that are qualified to perform testing for FCC certification or DoC, due to the fact that there is no MRA between China and the United States.
Along with this change the FCC lays out the process for a pre-grant approval procedure to be followed when a TCB is faced with certification of a device based on new technology.
The FCC also makes clear in the report the TCB’s responsibility in performing “post-market” surveillance of products it has certified.