The FCC Is Cracking Down on Sellers of Streaming Players Not Approved By the FCC





Male hand holding TV remote control.The number of small set-top boxes popping up for sale online is getting attention from the FCC. Often these boxes are not approved by FCC rules. For example, they may have Wi-Fi chips that can interfere with other Wi-Fi networks.

Now the FCC is warning the makers and users of streaming players that are not approved by the FCC that they could face a six-figure fine.

“Anyone marketing or operating noncompliant devices should stop immediately,” the FCC said in an enforcement advisory on the bureau website. “Violators may be subject to substantial monetary penalties that could total more than $147,000 per violation.”

The FCC went on to say: “Users, manufacturers, importers and retailers that violate Commission marketing or operating rules may be subject to the penalties authorized by the Communications Act, including, but not limited to, substantial monetary fines (up to $19,639 per day of marketing violations and up to $147,290 for an ongoing violation).”

According to the FCC, set-top boxes marketed and used in the United States must be approved for:

  • Proper FCC Authorization: Video TV Set-Top Boxes that contain a radio frequency transmitter, such as Wi-Fi, must be authorized through the Certification process or the Suppliers Declaration of Conformity (SDoC) procedures.
  • Labeling: Video TV Set-Top Boxes authorized under the Certification process must display a valid FCC Identifier that consists of the term “FCC ID” followed by a series of numbers, letters, and/or symbols that are unique to the device and can be used to verify the device’s authorization. In addition, all devices must include a statement, placed in a conspicuous location on the device, indicating that the device complies with the technical rules, may not cause harmful interference, and must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation.
  • User Manuals: Video TV Set-Top Boxes must contain consumer disclosures in the products’ user manuals warning consumers of the device’s potential for causing interference to other radio communications and providing a list of steps that could possibly eliminate the interference.

Why is the FCC cracking down on this? The main issue comes down to the Wi-Fi certification process. Bad Wi-Fi chips can not only cause issues for that device but also knock other users off the Wi-Fi network as it causes issues for the Wi-Fi Router.

Notices’ like this are often the first step before the FCC starts to crack down on sellers and end users of such devices. How would the FCC find you? In short, the FCC has a fleet of vans that monitor everything from illegal radio and TV stations to illegal Wi-Fi devices. Often the first step is to ask you to stop using the illegal device but a six-figure fine is possible.

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