Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sportster 3 Certification

Certification grants are issued either by a telecommunications testing body (TCB) or by the FCC. Up to now, they have always been issued by a TCB for the satellite radios. The TCB can issue a grant immediately, if everything is in order. It takes the FCC 30-45 days to issue a grant.

The Satellite Standard Group suggests that the FCC no longer allows the TCB's to issue certification grants for FM modulators. If so, it only applies to new radios, since re-certifications were issued by Sirius' TCB at the same time the grant was issued for the Sportster 3. To be clear, the grants for the re-certified Ki Ryung radios were TCB approved, not FCC approved. In fact, according to a search of the EAS database, no Ki Ryung device of any kind has ever received an FCC approved grant. A TCB also issued the grants for the XM re-certifications, so it is still unclear whether or not that might be the case. The FCC dismissed the XM TCB granted re-certifications and then later rejected them. However, if it is only the new radios now, that might explain it. It could be that the rest of them will be dismissed. We know the FCC is questioning the StarMate re-certification, although they have let it stand for now.

It could be that the FCC is only interested in testing one of the four Sirius radios that received certification at the same time, since they are all made by the same manufacturer and presumably use the same circuit. SSG suggested that since the Sportster 4 had already received certification, logically, the Sportster 3 would also receive certification. It must be remembered that a TCB granted the certification for the Sportster 4. If the FCC is testing the radios now, they may arrive at a different conclusion and reject all of them. Not saying that will happen. To the contrary, all the reviews on the Sportster 4 indicate that the FM modulator is weak, plus it should not be rocket science to produce a certifiable radio using their technique. The testing procedure is cut and dried. If it is rejected, it won't likely be that the FM modulator is too strong, although it has been indicated elsewhere that this might still be the case. If the Sportster 3 is still using a standard jack for the FMOut signal, it could be rejected by the FCC, depending on their interpretation.

It would explain why we have not seen re-certifications for the XM radios nor for the new Sirius radios, since it takes the FCC 30-45 days to issue the grants. It would make sense for the FCC to do this until the matter is resolved. It may be that Sirius and XM are now requesting the FCC test the radios rather than going through the pain of having them granted by a TCB and then later rejected by the FCC once the units are in production.

Let's hope it does not delay the availability of any of the new radios. It could be a dull Christmas.

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