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A plate full of symbols

Jun 11, 2019


electronic ITJust by looking at the bottom or rear part of an electronic IT device (such as a computer, router, monitor, etc.) or its accessories (mouse, keyboard or power source), we can identify a common feature: all of them have an identifying plate full of symbols. Each represents the product’s conformity with a series of rules or regulations applicable in a given country or economic area.

The reason behind the proliferation of symbols is that manufacturers want to sell the final product in as many markets as possible. While a greater standardization of requirements may be desirable, the truth is many countries have their own technical regulations and separate markings.

EU regulations

Among the most common symbols, the “CE” marking is worth noting. It stands for “Conformité Européenne” and opens the doors to the EU market. Its presence means that the product complies with the EU applicable regulations (and, most notably, those on electromagnetic compatibility, emitted interference, immunity, electric safety, energy efficiency, and hazardous chemicals). Manufacturers are responsible for carrying out as many tests as necessary to ensure product compliance, mostly relying on certified labs.

US regulations

FCC” and “UL” are other common markings based on fully different approaches. “FCC” stands for “Federal Communications Commission”, a US federal agency. All electronic devices must meet its requirements, despite its standards being far more limited than those applicable in Europe. The FCC calls for low electromagnetic emission levels and, if devices have radio transmission equipment, a proper use of the spectrum must be evidenced (without immunity to interferences or a certain level of electric safety being compulsory requirements). The key safety standard on electric risks is usually covered by marking “UL”, regulated by a private entity but commonly asked for in the American market. Despite the FCC calling for a limited number of tests, and unlike what happens with the “CE” marking, in the case of radio transmitting equipment it is not enough for manufacturers to perform some tests and keep the certificates in a drawer. Manufacturers must take the results to the relevant offices, register the product, and attach a code (known as “FCC ID”) to the labels of commodities such as Wi-Fi access points or cell phones. The FCC database is public and can be accessed via the website. The first three characters refer to the manufacturer and the last six correspond to the product. In the case of Teldat, please search for code “YUA”. The FCC database is a radio equipment registry of sorts. It contains the address of the grantee and the emitting frequencies and power of the device.

Thanks to the applicable regulations, the electronic devices that surround us run in a safe and reliable manner. Without them, we would risk having blurry images on TV, hearing white noise on the radio, having a device that stops working when another is switched on, or being affected by cuts in telephone calls or Wi-Fi service. Even worse, we might suffer from cramps, burns or be severely injured.

Governments update these standards periodically, in order to accommodate the latest technological developments. Manufacturers, such as Teldat, keep an eye on official publications to guarantee all products comply with the essential requirements.

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