DWUSB and FCC Certification

We have received inquiries about FCC certification of the DWUSB. The short answer is that the DWUSB is not FCC certified and it probably never will be.

The DWUSB is a demo and evaluation device which can be sold as such per the FCC rules. We clearly indicate this with the notice included with the device. As a demo and evaluation unit, you can use the DWUSB to test UWB location using our algorithms. We provide a demo/eval license with the software further limiting it to this purpose.

Since the DWUSB was designed to be an experimental platform, it has a removable antenna using an SMA connector. This characteristic generally means it cannot be FCC certified in its present form because the FCC forbids certification when the antenna is removable and it has a “standard” connector. In this instance, SMA is considered “standard”. This is why you sometimes see reverse polarity SMA (RP-SMA) connectors on devices, such as Wifi access points, because the FCC deemed those to be “non standard” connectors and thus can be certified. The insanity of this is that RP-SMA is widely available on the market and thus is a de facto “standard”.

The FCC recognized the popularity of RP-SMA (and other similar connector tweaks) and sought to ban them from certified devices in 2000, but the industry push back was strong enough to get the FCC to back off, but it is an issue with normal SMA.

One way around this is to claim the DWUSB needs “professional” installation. That is a bit of a hard claim to make given it plugs into a USB slot. The net result is that getting FCC certification of the DWUSB is a bit of a challenge.

We could pursue FCC for DWUSB if we changed the connector to RP-SMA, locked down the software to specific RF configurations, changed the label, and subjected the DWUSB to FCC compliance testing. The antenna can not be changed, even to add a cable. Expected cost for this would be about $15K which we wouldn’t make back on the sales.

By end of the year, we will have a complete solution for those requiring an UWB RTLS system that is FCC certified. The hardware already is FCC certified (has built in antennas), the software is under development. Watch our web site and forum for the product announcement in a few months.

Mike C.