Just because your wireless equipment is authorized for use by the FCC doesn't mean you can do whatever the heck you please with it, according to an enforcement advisory issued by the commission just before the long weekend (see the entire warning below).
"Authorized equipment must be used in a manner that complies with federal law and the Commission’s rules," reads the advisory, in part.
While the advisory might appear to be stating the obvious, an FCC spokesman elaborates that "the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau is taking proactive measures to decrease the number of complaints about the use of authorized equipment in a manner that is not compliant with their authorizations. Reducing complaint volume helps us handle those that do come in in a timely manner. The issue is an ongoing, steady problem."
One example of such rule-breaking is Wi-Fi hotspot blocking, in which organizations interfere with others' rights to use shared spectrum, often in the name of security. As we documented in a Network World report earlier this year based on a Freedom of Information Act request for complaints filed about Wi-Fi blocking, the public continues to find fault with hotels, casinos and other organizations on this front.
Other examples include using broadcast transmitters to run pirate radio stations and using authorized wireless routers on unauthorized channels at disallowed power levels.
In fining big hospitality outfits like Marriott and others tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for wrongdoing, the FCC has shown it isn't messing around. It encourages those who suspect equipment is being misused to make note of it at the FCC's new Consumer Complaint Data Center.
One longtime wireless industry expert, who asked not to be named, says "the examples they give, along with some recent enforcement activities, say it all. They keep running across people and organizations who are using legitimate functions of wireless devices in ways that are inconsistent with the regs. Said people and organizations then try to make the claim that if the function works at all, it must be consistent with the regs."
In other words, the expert says, the Enforcement Bureau is "telling people, in polite terms, 'Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law, so understand the regulations and don't violate them.'"