FCC Proposing Fast-Tracking 5G Devices

A 5G graphic
(Image credit: Dong Wenjie via Getty Images)

In a win for Big Tech, the FCC is proposing to allow them to market and sell 5G devices before the FCC approves them.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has circulated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to that effect for a vote at the December public meeting.

Consumer tech companies last July asked 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.

With winning that race a priority for the Trump Administration and the FCC, he had a receptive audience.


• "Proposes to modernize the Commission’s marketing rules to permit conditional sales of radiofrequency devices to consumers prior to equipment authorization, provided those devices are not delivered to consumers until equipment authorization has been obtained.

• "Proposes to modernize the Commission’s importation rules to permit importation of a limited number of radiofrequency devices for certain pre-sale activities prior to the devices obtaining a certification.

•  "Pre-sale activities would include packaging and shipping devices to retail locations, as well as loading devices with specific software to demonstrate specific features and capabilities of the devices.

• "Seeks comment on conditions to ensure that radiofrequency devices comply with this new importation provision prior to obtaining equipment authorization."

"As the pace of innovation has increased in the internet age and product development cycles have accelerated, our equipment authorization rules in some ways have failed to keep pace," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. "In particular, our rules limit the ability of device manufacturers to market and import radiofrequency devices in the most efficient and cost-effective ways possible."

He said that was why he wanted the "targeted enhancements" proposed above "to make sure the newest technologies and must-have devices reach consumers as quickly as possible while still meeting our substantive standards."  

CTA has assured the FCC that it is talking about pre-sales only and that no device would get into the hands of consumers before FCC approval.

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.