Wireless modules are increasingly being integrated into everyday products, like refrigerators, cars, and consumer medical devices. Therefore, more manufacturers need to be aware of the regulatory requirements of wireless transmitters.
In the European Union, it is mandatory that radio equipment meets the requirements for the Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive (R&TTE) 1999/5/EC (replaced in June 2016 by the Radio Equipment Directive 2014/53/EC).
The manufacturer of the wireless-enabled product is responsible for its overall compliance. Module manufacturers must provide clear instructions of integration to any host product manufacturer.
Since the R&TTE Directive does not make specific reference to wireless modules, there are no strict rules to follow, but there are a few general guidelines to keep in mind:
- When an R&TTE compliant module is integrated into a final host product, no further radio compliance testing is required, provided the module is integrated in accordance with its manufacturer’s instructions
- The final host product must always meet the other essential safety and EMC requirements of the directive
- The most common method of demonstrating compliance and a presumption of conformity with R&TTE is by using harmonized standards
The R&TTE Compliance Association has issued guidance on the use of wireless modules: Technical Guidance Note 01 on the R&TTED compliance requirements for a Radio Module and the Final Product that integrates a Radio Module, May 2013.
In the U.S. and Canada, the approval process is straightforward, unless there are multiple modules integrated together.
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) rules on module integration are explained in CFR 47 Part 15.212, with further detail in the guidance document KDB 996369. The Industry Canada rules for modules are similar to those of the FCC and are spelled out in RSS-GEN Section 3.
In order for a wireless module to meet the requirements of FCC Part 15, it must comply with the requirements for shielded circuitry, a unique antenna connector, stand-alone configuration, and RF exposure limits. Once these guidelines are met, FCC modular approval is granted through a TCB like MET Labs, and the product may be operated under certain conditions of use. If the conditions of the grant are met, further testing is not required for the intentional radiator part of the host equipment.
Where multiple modules are integrated together, the rules can become more complex. This is particularly true if the host device is to be used in a portable application within 20cm of the human head or body and RF exposure becomes a major issue. Then SAR testing is required.
Where the conditions of the modular grant cannot be adhered to when integrated into the final host, additional testing and certification is usually required.
To learn more about wireless compliance, attend our upcoming EMC & Wireless Design and Testing Seminar in Santa Clara, CA. If you have an upcoming need for wireless equipment testing or compliance assistance, contact us today.