FCC Proposes Massive Fine for Marketing of Drone Transmitters

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a major financial penalty against a U.S. retailer for the marketing of transmitters used in connection with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) that failed to comply with FCC rules and regulations.

In a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, the FCC proposed a forfeiture of more than $2.8 million against HobbyKing USA and its affiliated companies for marketing on its website audio/video transmitters intended for use with drones. According to the Notice, an investigation by the FCC determined that at least 65 different models of transmitters, which enable drone-mounted cameras to send video feeds back to their ground-based operators, operated in unauthorized radio frequency bands that could potentially interfere with aviation systems, weather radar systems and other government and public safety services.

In addition, the FCC’s investigation determined that three of the transmitter models marketed by HobbyKing operated at power levels significantly higher than the 1000mW limit.

The FCC initially launched its investigation into the company following receipt of complaints by the ARRL and others that the transmitters were causing interference with licensed radio operations. Based on its findings, the FCC issued a formal citation against HobbyKing, as well as an order for the company to provide the FCC with information on the marketing of its AV transmitters. However, the company failed to provide the requested information to the FCC, ultimately leading to the massive proposed fine.

Read the FCC Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture in connection with drone transmitters.

In a separate Enforcement Advisory, the FCC reiterated its compliance requirements applicable to transmitters and other accessories used in connection with drones. Read the Advisory, which provides a summary of current requirements as well as information on the penalties for non-compliance.

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