The Federal Communications Commission fined HobbyKing $2,861,128 for marketing drone transmitters which did not comply with FCC licensing rules.
HobbyKing markets devices that provide a video link between transmitters mounted on unmanned aircraft systems and users flying drones. An FCC investigation found that dozens of devices marketed by the company transmitted in unauthorized radio frequency bands and, in some cases, operated at excessive transmission power levels.
Radio frequency-emitting devices that can operate outside of radio frequency bands designated for amateur use must obtain FCC certification. The FCC’s investigation found that 65 models of devices could operate outside those bands – in addition to using designated amateur radio bands – yet the devices were not certified by the Commission.
Following complaints to the FCC, the Commission’s Enforcement Bureau opened an investigation into the company’s marketing of radio frequency devices to American consumers. In response to these complaints, the FCC issued a formal citation to warn the company that it must comply with these requirements. Following further complaints, the Commission ordered the company to provide information on its marketing of AV transmitters, yet HobbyKing provided no further response, as required by law. The Commission thus proposed this fine in 2018 and adopted it today.
Such unlawful transmissions could interfere with key government and public safety services like aviation systems and weather radar systems. If HobbyKing does not pay this fine within 30 days, this matter will be referred to the Department of Justice for collection.
The Forfeiture Order is available online.