FCC 5GHz UNII Rule Changes

March 17, 2016

Will the FCC Extend the June 2, 2016 Deadline?

Our FCC certifications team has received many questions related to the FCC 5GHz rule changes implemented in FCC Report & Order 14-30, June 2014.

The FCC issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order (MO&O) – FCC 16-24 – on Wednesday March 2, 2016 that has added to the confusion.

The most often asked question: Is the FCC going to delay the June 2, 2016 deadline for all devices (new and older devices still being sold) to be approved using the new rules?

Answer:  No.  Come June 2, 2016 all 5GHz unlicensed devices still shipping must be approved using the FCC rules issued in June 2014.

The MO&O issue addressed spurious emissions limits for the 5725-5850MHz band.  This was a point of contention when the rules were updated to change the rule part under which devices using the this band were approved.  There has been an ongoing discussion between manufacturers and the FCC regarding this band.  Previously, most manufacturers approved their devices that operated in this band using the limits published in FCC §15.247.  The 5 GHz rule update made the limits more restrictive, specifically at the band-edges, and greatly impacted manufactures that used higher gain antennas intended for long distance links.

Manufactures that performed permissive changes to update to the new rules usually had to reduce power for channels at the edge of the band from their original approvals.

Under the MO&O, issued last week, the FCC is updating the rules to allow two different options for showing compliance with the spurious emission requirement for UNII devices operating in the 5725-5850MHz band (UNII-3 band).  One option is a mask that is less stringent than the current requirement.  This is the long term requirement.  The second option is a temporary option that allows manufactures to revert to the 15.247 limit in the rules prior to June 2014 for spurious emissions.  How temporary depends on the gain of the antennas used.  Devices with antennas >10dBi have until March 2, 2018 to update their approval to the mask.  If their antenna gain is <10dBi, they have until March 2, 2020 to update to the mask.

The MO&O can NOT be used for certification yet.  The updated rules need to be first published in the Federal Register and then there is a 30 day delay before TCBs can approve applications using either of the options.  When the MO&O will get published in the Federal Register is unknown.

Options for New Devices Seeking Authorization

For new devices seeking authorization, manufactures have a few choices at this time on how to test the UNII-3 band:

  1. Use the current (aka – new 5GHz rules, from 2014).
  2. Use the mask, and understand that certification will have to wait for the rules to go into effect.
  3. Use the 15.247(d) limits, knowing they will need to update their approval in the future (if still shipping), and understand that certification will have to wait for the rules to go into effect

Devices currently approved using the “old” rules, with the 5725-5850MHz band approved under the DTS/15.247 rules, still need to get updated to the new rules by June 2, 2016 or stop shipping.  The options are:

  1. Test the 5725-5850MHz band against the most stringent June 2014 UNII limit.  Reduce power, and file a Class II Permissive Change (C2PC)
  2. Test the band against the new mask.  File a C2PC once the rules go live
  3. Use the old 15.247 report (Note: we are still waiting confirmation from the FCC that this would be allowed), no testing, and file a C2PC once the rules go live.  This would give manufactures a couple of years to deal with the change.  It is likely that the FCC will require a new report with 15.407 references to be submitted.

An additional note, this does not address any of the other requirements that need to be met for the new rules (UNII-1, DFS, software security) that still need to be met by June 2, 2016. These must be included in new and C2PC filings.

For more information, please contact us at (800) 270-2516 or via email to If you would like to book your testing prior to the deadlines, please use our Request a Quote form for the quickest response.

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