On 17 June 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously voted to uphold a US$2.8 million penalty against HobbyKing, a drone distributor, for selling communications devices for drones that used frequencies the FCC had never authorized.
HobbyKing sold communications devices for drones that used license-exempt amateur radio frequencies. But, according to the FCC’s 2020 forfeiture order, HobbyKing’s devices also used other frequencies, including aviation spectrum used by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), that required prior FCC authorization but never received it. The FCC also found that some HobbyKing drone models operated at power levels above those permitted by FCC rules. Had HobbyKing sought FCC certification, the FCC would have realized that many of HobbyKing’s drones were operating in prohibited spectrum bands and at impermissibly high power levels.
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