Q. What does FCC modular approval of your module get me? Does that mean that I don’t have to do any FCC testing at all?
A. Well first, let’s define what the FCC is and what they are supposed to do. From the FCC website “The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent United States government agency, directly responsible to Congress. The FCC is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.”
As part of that charge, the FCC publishes and regulates the radiation standards to which all electronic components must comply. Under that portion of their charter, they try and make sure that devices aren’t radiating at frequencies or power outputs that are outside of predefined ranges.
Now that we have some background on the FCC out of the way, we should understand that there are really two types of radio frequency emissions or radiation that the FCC is concerned about. The first is intentional radiation and the second is unintentional radiation. Intentional radiation includes things like CBs, Wi-Fi, all of Digi’s RF products and anything that is trying to broadcast data on radio waves. All intentional radiators must be tested to meet some FCC standard. In the case of Digi’s radios, the devices must pass FCC 15.247 for intentional radiation. If you were to build your own radio, you would also need to test to this standard. Typical testing will take a week or two and run you $10,000-25,000 depending on how much power you’re outputting and the level of experience of the design engineer.
The second type of radiation the FCC is concerned about is unintentional radiation. The harmonics of any clocks, oscillators or any transients that exist in electronics can cause radiation at frequencies that may interfere with other devices if the unintended radiation is strong enough. Electronics must be tested for unintentional radiation by complying with FCC Part 15 Class A or Class B. Class A devices are intended for use in Industrial or Commercial environments and Class B’s intended use is for residential or small office. Class B is the more stringent requirement. Generally this type of testing will only take a day and cost $1,500-$2,500.
So, do you need to do any FCC testing if you buy our products? If you are using any of Digi’s boxed products, there is no need to get any additional FCC testing in order to deploy the product. All the necessary testing has already been taken care of and you can deploy without any additional testing or filings.
If, however, you are using one of the OEM modules and dropping it into your own PCB with other electronics, then the radio’s modular approval means that you do not have to do any testing to FCC 15.247 for intentional radiators. The module’s FCC ID fulfills that requirement. Your electronics probably still need to go through FCC Part 15 Class A or B testing for unintentional radiation, but that should be the extent of the testing so the modular approval should end up saving your company significant time and money. The FCC allows for self-declaration for Part B so the process should be relatively painless.
For a list of modules and countries where we have modular approval, see the section of the products page located here.