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FCC shutdown continues, but new phones will be allowed to go to market

The federal government shutdown is now on its 33rd day as legislators and President Donald Trump are at an impasse over border security funding. However, the FCC has been without a budget and, consequentially, most of its staff for 20 days at this point.

One of the key functions of the commission is to approve radiofrequency-emitting devices — for us, that concerns smartphones, smartwatches, tablets and the like — for sale in the United States. With furloughs in place, that has not been happening for the better part of three weeks.

But on Friday, the FCC decided to reopen the Equipment Authorization System to third-party RF testing facilities. The facilities are responsible for submitting paperwork certifying that the products it has tested on behalf of manufacturers are certified to conform to FCC radiofrequency rules.

As staff at the Offices of Engineering and Technology are off the job at this point, approvals won’t be issued. However, reopening the EAS will allow companies to market and sell most products, including conventional mobile technology products, that have been RF-tested. Requests on experimental projects that need FCC approval, such as Google’s Project Soli, will still require staff consultation.

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