Update on Federal Communications Commission test laboratory accreditation rules
In our June 2016 newsletter, we updated you on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) progress with rules regarding the authorisation of radio frequency and terminal equipment. The adoption of FCC 16‐74 on June 14 2016 changed previous FCC rules (KDB 974614).
KDB 974614 had stated that after 12 July 2016 Telecommunications Certification Bodies (TCBs) would only be able to accept test reports from laboratories accredited to ISO/IEC 17025 by the FCC, or a designating authority which is recognised by the FCC through a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA). This meant that testing performed in support of Declaration of Conformity (DoC) and certification activity would needed to have been ISO17025 accredited, and testing performed in non-MRA countries (such as China) would not be accepted by Telecommunications Certification Bodies (TCB).
On 14 June 2016, a Memorandum Opinion and Order, FCC 16-74, was adopted which stated that laboratories already listed will be recognised for a further year – until 12 July 2017. This was intended to give sufficient time for eligible 2.948 laboratories to become accredited, so as to not disrupt the equipment development and manufacturing process.
A coming change in the rules FCC 16-74 directed the FCC to publish a KDB with procedures for recognising accrediting bodies and accredited testing laboratories in non MRA countries. KDB publication 974614 D02 contains the details.
Testing laboratories in non-MRA countries must be assessed by an FCC recognised Test Firm Accrediting Body (TFAB). A TFAB must submit a request to the FCC to be recognised for each country that they want to assess labs in. At this time, two US TFABs have requested recognition and the FCC has published a public notice (PN) asking for comments. PN’s available at www.fcc.gov/edocs (DA 16-1138 A2LA and DA-1139 NVLAP).
If an MRA becomes operational in a country, then all previously recognised test labs must transition to the MRA procedures.
What should manufacturers do? The FCC actively enforces its own rules and penalties can be severe. Manufacturers should ensure that the laboratory which they are using for FCC Certification and DoC testing is FCC accredited by the 12 July 2017 deadline. If in doubt about the FCC rules, seek guidance from a company experienced in dealing with FCC matters, such as TÜV SÜD.
TÜV SÜD offers ISO/IEC 17025 accredited testing for FCC and ISED radio standards and has FCC and ISED recognised testing laboratory locations throughout the world.
TÜV SÜD BABT, the certification body of TÜV SÜD, also provides FCC and ISED certification services for manufacturers and suppliers of radio and telecoms equipment wishing to gain access to the US and Canadian markets. As a TCB appointed under the EU-USA MRA, TÜV SÜD BABT is authorised by the FCC and ISED to issue grants and certifications for a wide range of radio and telecommunications equipment.