Your Questions, Our Answers: FCC Transition Plan for U-NII Devices

As some may have heard, the FCC has made some major changes to rule parts that pertain to U-NII (Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure) type devices. The specific rules and guidance documents can be found on the FCC website. The purpose of this blog is to provide answers to some specific questions that have been asked.

Question 1: What are the effective dates for the U-NII rules adopted by the Commission in ET Docket No. 13-49 (FCC 14-30)?

The new U-NII rules in the Report and Order ET Docket No. 13-49 are effective from June 2, 2014. Applications for certification of new devices under the new U-NII rules can begin after the effective date. In adopting the revised rules, the Commission also established a transition time period during which devices may be approved under rules in effect prior to June 2, 2014 (“Old Rules”) or after the effective date (“New Rules”).

Permissive Change: § 2.1043 addresses the conditions for Class II and Class III permissive changes for equipment that has not been modified through changes in hardware. Such changes are permitted by software only. KDB Publication 178919 provides some additional guidance for permissive changes. In the following references to Class II permissive changes also include Class III permissive changes for SDR radios unless specifically noted.

Question 2: What is the transition period during which “Old Rules” can be used to show compliance?

Applications for new devices can be filed under the “Old Rules” until June 2, 2015; after this date, applications for all new devices must be filed under the “New Rules”. Class II or Class III permissive changes for devices approved under the “Old Rules” may be filed under the “Old Rules” until June 2, 2016 (two years after the effective date of the rules). After June 2, 2016, all applications for new device and permissive changes for previously approved devices must meet the “New Rules” for operation in all grant-listed U-NII sub-bands.

Question 3: How long can the devices approved, under the “Old Rules”, be marketed without a new application?

Devices approved under the “Old Rules” may be marketed until June 2, 2016. All devices marketed sold, manufactured, imported or newly installed in the USA must meet the “New Rules” after June 2, 2016. Devices already in use and installed are grandfathered.

Question 4: Are there different test compliance procedures under the “Old Rules” and the “New Rules”?

Yes, for details see the appropriate KDB Publications. KDB Publication 905462 lists the appropriate guidance documents for devices subject to DFS requirements. KDB Publication 789033 provides guidance for EMC testing. KDB Publication 594280 provides guidance on software configuration control and security. In addition, appropriate compliance guidance should be followed for devices subject to RF exposure evaluation.

Question 5: How long will devices continue to be approved under the “Old Rules”?

June 2, 2015 is the last day to file new FCC ID applications under the “Old Rules”. June 2, 2016 is the last day to file permissive change applications under the “Old Rules”. All devices marketed, imported or sold after June 2, 2016 must meet the “New Rules”.

Question 6: Do we have to update filings for all operating devices?

No, but devices approved under the “Old Rules” are subject to the transition requirements and cannot be marketed, manufactured, imported, sold or newly installed after June 2, 2016. Devices already in use and installed are grandfathered.

With the changes that FCC has made for U-NII devices, I am sure that many other questions will come up. FCC has done a great job providing guidance to make the transition process as simple as possible.