FCC Fines HobbyKing Nearly $3 Million for Marketing Unauthorized Drone Transmitters
The FCC has issued a Forfeiture Order (FO) calling for HobbyKing to pay a fine of $2,861,128 for marketing drone transmitters that do not comply with FCC rules. An FCC Enforcement Bureau investigation stemmed in part from a 2017 ARRL complaint that HobbyKing was selling drone transmitters that operated on amateur and non-amateur frequencies, in some instances marketing them as amateur radio equipment. The fine affirms the monetary penalty sought in a June 2018 FCC Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL). The FCC said its investigation found that dozens of devices marketed by the company transmitted in unauthorized radio frequency bands and, in some cases, operated at excessive power levels. “Such unlawful transmissions could interfere with key government and public safety services, like aviation systems,” the FCC said.“We have fully considered HobbyKing’s response to the NAL, which does not contest any facts and includes only a variety of legal arguments, none of which we find persuasive,” the FCC said in the FO. “We, therefore, adopt the $2,861,128 forfeiture penalty proposed in the NAL.”
The FCC pointed out in the FO that it has previously made clear that “[d]evices used in the Amateur Radio Service do not require authorization before being imported into the United States, but devices for other services, including the CB service, require Commission approval.” The FCC investigation found that 65 models of devices marketed by HobbyKing should have had FCC certification.
Responding to the NAL, HobbyKing claimed to have ceased marketing the 65 models the FCC identified but promised only to make “best efforts” not to market other non-compliant RF devices. “HobbyKing has a continuing obligation to market only radio frequency equipment that is properly authorized,” the FCC said. “We, therefore, remind HobbyKing that continuing to market non-compliant radiofrequency devices could result in further significant forfeitures.”
HobbyKing has 30 days to pay the fine. If it fails to do so, the matter will be referred to the Department of Justice for collection.