Industry Canada (IC) Certification
IC is the Canadian counterpart to the United States’ FCC, also focusing on RF emissions. The certification procedure for IC closely matches that of the FCC. To get certified for both, there are generally not many differences between the tests. The only added costs come with two separate application fees, one for each agency. If the manufacturer is not located in Canada, they will need an in-country representative.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Certification
UL is a global organization headquartered in the United States that sets standards for products ranging from mobile phones to plastic materials. While many of the regulations from organizations like FCC and CISPR are concerned with controlling RF emissions, UL regulations are focused on product safety (e.g., preventing electrical fires).
The UL safety standard that is currently used in the United States (as of February 2020, when this blog was published) for Information Technology is UL 60950. However, since that standard will be updated to the UL 62368 (for Audio/Video, Information & Communication Technology Equipment) as of December 20, 2020, we recommend designing your products to fit this new standard.
Conformité Européenne (CE) Certification
Conformité Européenne is French for European Conformity, and it’s the universal standard for health, safety, and environmental regulatory compliance within the European Economic Area (EEA). Nearly every kind of product you could manufacture must have a CE marking and corresponding Declaration of Conformity in the EEA, from toys to water boilers, so this will most likely apply if you plan to market, manufacture, or sell there.
In order to get the official CE mark on your product, you’ll need to identify the EU regulations that apply to your product, complete your own conformity assessment, and create a technical file. Finally, you’ll need to make a Declaration of Conformity, which is a document signed by you confirming that your product complies with CE regulations. The regulations that apply to your product will determine what needs to be included in your declaration.
In Europe, the Declaration of Conformity is a legally binding document placing all liability on you, the manufacturer’s shoulders. If your product is found to be non-compliant, it will be your responsibility to address and remedy any ramifications.
The acronym for this regulator previously stood for PCS Type Certification Review Board, but it’s now a pseudo-acronym for “a certification organization established in 1997 by leading wireless operators to define test specifications and methods to ensure device interoperability on global wireless networks,” according to its website. Basically, this organization ensures that your product works well with cellular carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile (Verizon has its own carrier test you’ll need to perform.)
The acronym stands for Global Certification Forum. It is a world-wide certifying agency that consists of a network of “Operators, Manufacturers, and Observers.” Operators are typically carriers, manufacturer memberships are for those who either manufacture directly or put a product on the marketplace, and observer members are for anyone else who has an interest in cellular technology.
Annual membership is required in order to achieve product certification, and then an approved test facility must perform the compliance testing. Once a device is certified, the certification stays valid if the manufacturer does not wish to maintain an annual membership.
Perhaps the most notable benefit of obtaining GCF certification is that it is recognized worldwide. While it may not cover a device for all carriers, the test results from this test can minimize the number of carrier-specific tests that are required. This can not only save money but also time to market.
The Wi-Fi Alliance champions the use of Wi-Fi technologies to solve a wide range of problems. More importantly, they set the standards that help to ensure interoperability between the different generations of Wi-Fi devices. A Wi-Fi CERTIFIED product has been tested to ensure that these standards are met. In most industrial applications, the Wi-Fi module itself has been through this testing. In consumer markets, however, most components are Wi-Fi CERTIFIED, and not obtaining this certification can be a competitive disadvantage.
Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG)
The Bluetooth SIG is analogous to the Wi-Fi Alliance in championing the use of its technology. They also maintain the Bluetooth standard. Much like the W-Fi certification, Bluetooth qualification testing ensures that a device will maintain interoperability with other devices. Again, in most industrial applications this is not pursued, but it is almost a requirement for devices to be sold to general consumers.
Understanding How Regulations Affect Your Product
Now that you know why you should care about IoT product compliance and who the major players are in the space, how do you know if any of these rules apply to your product?
In Part 2 of this guide, we’ll talk about the kinds of devices that need to be certified, and in Part 3 we will review the costs and the process for certification, all so that you can approach your next product release with confidence.
If you’re looking for an expert IoT firm to guide you through product development, we’re here to help. Reach out to Very today.