Aug 1, 2017

How the DWUSB fits in with regulatory compliance

Ciholas has received a number of inquiries regarding FCC certification of the DWUSB. The DWUSB is not FCC certified, and for the reasons outlined below probably never will be.

Designed for Demo and Evaluation

The DWUSB was designed for demonstration and evaluation of UWB technologies. The FCC allows for evaluation devices to be sold without certification. Accordingly, the DWUSB evaluation kit ships with a notice indicating that it is a product intended for developers' evaluation. Developers may use the DWUSB to test UWB Real Time Location using Ciholas algorithms. A demonstration and evaluation license is provided with the software further limiting usage to development purposes.

Connector Standards

As an experimental platform, the DWUSB was designed with a standard SMA connector and removable antenna. The FCC forbids certification of devices with removable antenna that use a standard connector. Many devices, such as WiFi access points, satisfy this requirement by using reverse polarity SMA (RP-SMA) connections which are considered by the FCC to be non-standard.

Oddly enough, RP-SMA is now widely available in the market and has become a "de facto standard". Recognizing the popularity of RP-SMA connectors, the FCC sought to ban them from certified devices in 2000. Industry push back was strong enough that the ban was never implemented. Unfortunately this still remains an issue with SMA connections.

Updates for Approval?

It would be possible to certify the DWUSB with the FCC by updating the design to RP-SMA, and locking the software down to a specific RF configuration. Such a change would not allow developers to change the antenna, even to add a cable between the device and antenna. The change would also negate developers from testing a variety of different UWB RF configurations. At this time Ciholas doesn't believe that the cost to update the design and send it through FCC certification is worth the investment since doing so would limit the device's utility for test and development.

A Solution on the Way

Ciholas will soon be announcing the release of CUWB 3.0. This release will provide a complete, FCC certified, UWB RTLS system to users. Hardware for this release has already been through FCC certification, and software is under development. Watch the web site and forum for product announcements.

This article is an updated version of a forum post. The original can be found here