CTA Asks FCC for Early Jump on 5G Devices

Consumer tech companies are asking the FCC for more flexibility to import, market and pre-sell 5G devices before the FCC approves their use, something they say is critical to winning the race to 5G. 

"As innovators race to develop and deploy products and services for the 5G economy, companies sorely need greater flexibility to market and pre-sell devices to the public prior to obtaining FCC equipment authorization," the Consumer Technology Association told the FCC in a petition for rulemaking or, alternatively, a waiver.

CTA said that modifying or waiving the general prohibition on marketing an RF device until it has been authorized is "necessary to meet consumer and market demands and to further the policy priority of 5G global leadership." 

It says the decades-old prohibition on importing, marketing and pre-selling devices is an impediment in winning the race to 5G, a victory that both the FCC and President Donald Trump have made a priority  

"[T]he current prohibition on conditional sales to consumers and the very limited ability to import devices prior to authorization, even for activities to ready such devices for retail display, impede innovation in 5G, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and more," it told the FCC.  

The association said allowing conditional sales prior to official approval "would give manufacturers a better sense of end-user demand, help smaller manufacturers reserve factory space and attract investors, and reduce waste." 

CTA assured the FCC it was talking about pre-sales and that no device would get into the hands of consumers before FCC approval. "This would ensure that the Commission can continue to protect against harms from radio frequency emissions and promote transparency in radio frequency device labeling," it said.  

But CTA added that the FCC need not be a "general consumer protection agency," with the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general already filling that role, with the authority and experience to deal with any advertising, marketing or promotion that was false or deceptive.  

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.