October at-a-glance … regulations

FCC considers how to charge for use of radio wave spectrum for IoT devices

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) to help evaluate how to assess fees on unlicensed spectrum users. The NOPR specifically mentions “appliances and home goods equipment” on page 52430 of the NOPR. “This illustrates another challenge as manufacturers move to more connected kitchen appliances,” said NAFEM Vice President, Regulatory and Technical Affairs Charlie Souhrada, CFSP. “Agencies are looking for fee opportunities in all corners.”

Today, most internet of Things (IoT) devices that communicate with other devices over the internet operate in the unlicensed radio wave spectrum. While most of the spectrum is licensed by the FCC to radio and television stations, the agency also oversees the very small, unlicensed part of the spectrum. With more than 1.5 billion IoT devices expected to be in use by 2022, the FCC must determine if and how to charge unlicensed spectrum users to ensure enough interference-free bandwidth for all.

In joint comments to the FCC, NAFEM joined 14 organizations including the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), Information Technology Council (ITI), the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEM) and others in saying any increased burden and fees on products could slow adoption of and undercut investment in connected devices and their collaborative communications.

EPA considers potential regulations of PFA imports

Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced plans to tighten restrictions around the import of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs) and any imported products containing these substances, as part of its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). According to the agency, “While EPA believes the use of these chemicals as surface coatings in imported goods has been phased out, this supplemental proposal would ensure that any new uses are reviewed by EPA before products containing these chemicals could be imported.” To assess the situation, EPA is considering requiring organizations to report on the PFAs-containing products they have imported for the past 10 years.

“EPA is signaling its intent to extend its authority under TSCA to gain this information on PFAs production and use in manufacturing,” said Tammy Helminski, NAFEM legal counsel, Barnes & Thornburg. “We will continue to monitor the situation.”

The agency’s PFAs action plan is available online, along with a program update and informative fact sheet.