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5G, FCC and Interference with the Digital Spectrum

Recent news about airlines having trouble dealing with the 5G wireless rollout is a good reminder of the issue of interference with the digital spectrum. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has regulations for outdoor digital signs because they can interfere with commercial and public wireless devices. This may occur because the signs are operating at Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI) levels not allowed under U.S. federal law and in violation of FCC regulations.

Click here for frequently asked questions to better understand these issues.

ISA urges all sign, graphics and visual communications companies to comply with relevant federal law, including FCC regulations. A few things to know:

  • Digital devices, including digital signs, sold in the U.S. must be tested by accredited laboratories under normal operating conditions to demonstrate compliance with FCC rules. These devices are required to carry a two-part warning label or certificate of compliance, according to Subpart B of Section 15 of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
  • If a digital sign is found to violate either the equipment authorization rules or to cause interference to the wireless spectrum, the sign’s owner or manufacturer may have to pay a fine. If the sign cannot be brought into compliance, it can no longer be used. Other penalties may be included for willful violation of the FCC’s rules or citations.
  • Consult your attorney to determine the applicable requirements under U.S. law for your products and services, or for advice on how to work with your manufacturer/supplier to ensure compliance.

ISA has extensive resources to help the sign, graphics and visual communications industry better understand compliance responsibilities under the FCC’s rules and precedent.

If you have any questions about complying with the FCC regulations, please contact David Hickey, ISA vice president of advocacy at (703) 797-0479.

FCC Compliance FAQs