FCC Fines HobbyKing $2.8M+ for Marketing Non-Compliant Drone Transmitters

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The FCC Thursday fined HobbyKing $2,861,128 for marketing drone transmitters which did not comply with Commission licensing rules. HobbyKing markets devices that provide a video link between transmitters mounted on unmanned aircraft systems and users flying drones. The FCC said its investigation found dozens of devices marketed by the company transmitted in unauthorized RF bands and, in some cases, operated at excessive transmission power levels.  

RF-emitting devices that can operate outside of radio frequency bands designated for amateur use must obtain FCC certification. The agency’s investigation found 65 models of devices could operate outside those bands – in addition to using designated amateur radio bands. But the devices were not certified by the Commission. 

After receiving complaints, the Enforcement Bureau opened an investigation. In response to these complaints, the FCC issued a formal citation to warn the company that it must comply with these requirements. Following further complaints, the Commission ordered the company to provide information on its marketing of AV transmitters, yet the FCC says HobbyKing provided no further response, as required by law. The Commission thus proposed the fine in 2018, and adopted it Thursday.

Such unlawful transmissions could interfere with key government and public safety services like aviation systems and weather radar systems. If HobbyKing does not pay this fine within 30 days, warned the FCC, the case will be referred to the Department of Justice for collection. 

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