Does My IoT Device Need PTCRB Certification?
Introducing an IoT device to market comes with a host of challenges, not the least of which is the question of PTCRB certification. This certification is a requirement for some IoT devices to be put on sale in territories like the US, but when is it absolutely necessary?
In this blog, we will look at what PTCRB certification is, why a device might need it, and how to go about acquiring it. Let us start by examining what the PTCRB is.
What Is the PTCRB?
First established in 1997, the PTCRB was initially named for the PCS-type Certification Review Board, an organization created to establish the framework within which radio-based equipment can be evaluated for network compliance. It is a voluntary program that tests and certifies that devices are safe, secure, and can operate off of existing frameworks.
PTCRB certification is based upon standards developed by a number of international governing bodies (3GPP, OMA, etc,) as well as local regulations that will depend on the area in which the device will be sold.
The testing process covers a number of capabilities as well as device construction, boasting tests designed to ensure that the device operates at the correct radio frequencies (i.e. doesn’t interfere with other signals, and does not transmit unwanted data) and securely supports SIM card installation, among other aspects.
Who Has to be PTCRB Certified?
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably either an IoT device manufacturer or a telecom services provider. If so, it’s likely that one of your biggest questions is whether or not your product needs to be certified by the PTCRB before it can be launched into the market.
The answer to this question depends on several factors:
- What kind of IoT device are you developing?
- What technologies does it use?
- Where will your product be sold?
PTCRB certification is required for products that are sold and operated within the US and rely on mobile communications technologies to function. This includes devices that operate off of LTE, CAT M1, and NB IoT connectivity.
If you’re an IoT device manufacturer, then you’ll need PTCRB certification if your product is going to connect to any telecommunications network in the US. This includes everything from smartphones and tablets, to WiFi-enabled thermostats, smart speakers, and even connected medical devices.
If you’re a telecommunication service provider, then PTCRB certification is actually required by law. The same goes for operators who provide sim cards; so long as they plan to operate within the US, then they too must be certified.
How Do You Get Your Device PTCRB Certified?
The certification process involves several steps and numerous documents. To get started, you need to submit a request for certification via the certification database and select an accredited testing lab to evaluate the IoT device.
The testing lab will then inspect the device, with the number and variety of tests attempted based on the capabilities of the device. Should the device pass these examinations, the testing lab will then submit documentation to the certification database.
As this happens, the manufacturer would also need to collect necessary documentation and submit it to the PTCRB Certification database alongside a fee made payable to the CTIA, who will do the final preparations and ensure that all requirements have been met. If all goes to plan, the PTCRB will then be issued a certification notice for their device.
There’s no deadline for getting PTCRB certified. The whole process takes as long as three months, depending on the complexity of the device.
How do I Tell if My Device is Already Certified?
While IoT devices can be required to be certified by PTCRB, it’s not always obvious where this information can be found. This is particularly cumbersome for organizations deploying large fleets of mixed devices from international operators.
For those organizations that have purchased an IoT device and are uncertain whether or not it is certified, you can:
- Check the FCC ID number on your device. If it begins with “8811A” or “8681,” then the product has been certified by PTCRB or one of its international partners;
- Check out the TSC Worldwide Worldwide Database, which has information about devices from around the world, including their certification status.
- Look up the device on the PTCRB website (this site is only available in English).
If your product is IoT enabled, it’s probably a good idea to get it PTCRB Certified. This will ensure that the device meets all FCC guidelines and can be sold in North America. This can also help if you plan to sell your products globally, as FCC guidelines line up nicely with similar regulations for many other countries.
And if you still have any questions about the PTCRB certification process or just want someone to talk to about it, feel free to reach out!
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