• Darrin Friskney on Digital Billboards and FCC Emmission Limits

    Watchfire has published a white paper alleging that Asian manufactured LED signs and digital billboards are emitting electromagnetic interference at levels that dramatically surpass FCC limits.  Insider asked Watchfire Vice President Darrin Friskney about the issue.

    What are the FCC emission limits for digital signs and why are they important?

    LED signs generally fall under the emissions limits set forth in FCC Part 15 for Class A devices. When an LED sign exceeds emission levels, the electromagnetic noise the sign creates can interfere radio signals such as those for cell phone towers, airports, police and fire communications and other devices or services that are dependent on radio transmissions. For a billboard operator, it’s important to know that your manufacturer is compliant because it is the only way you know you have a legal sign. 

    What are the risks associated with operating a billboard which doesn’t comply with FCC emissions limits?

    According to the FCC’s rules, the responsibility for remedying interference is on the sign owner. This can mean expensive fines, and if the issue can’t be corrected in the field – as is the case with many of these imported signs – it would mean shutting down the sign permanently. The FCC could also fine the manufacturer, but the sign owner is the one with more to lose.

    What does Watchfire do to verify that their signs are in compliance with FCC emissions limits?

    Watchfire engineers deploy a variety of in-house tests aimed at confirming emissions compliance throughout the design process. Then, as prescribed by the law, each final design is tested by an accredited lab. It’s not an inexpensive process, and it takes skilled engineers and high quality components to develop a verified product. Watchfire’s entire product line is verified by an accredited third-party lab and also bears the required two-part warning sticker. 

    What questions should a digital billboard buyer ask to make sure they are buying a digital billboard which is FCC compliant?

     Reputable manufacturers will be happy to provide the information and education needed to ensure their digital sign product meets all FCC standards. Here are some questions to ask the sign manufacturer:

    1. What specific FCC rules govern your product, and how specifically have you complied with those rules?
    2. Do you fall under any exemptions as outlined in Title 47 Part 15.103?
    3. Can you provide the test report that shows that this exact model meets the requirements of Title 47 Sections 2.955, 15.105, 15.107 and 15.109?
    4. Was the equipment tested under normal operating conditions and in a state such as to cause maximum emissions as prescribed by FCC Part 15?
    5. Can you provide a photo of the label that meets the requirements of Title 47 Part 15.19?

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