Device makers such as Google Inc may have to delay introductions of new smartphones and other products because the partial US government shutdown halted mandatory certifications advising that the gadgets do not cause interference.
Computers, mobile phones, gaming systems, TVs and wireless medical devices that emit radio waves need to pass a review by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The FCC clears about 16,000 electronic devices annually, according to figures presented last month to US lawmakers by Jessica Rosenworcel, an FCC commissioner.
That output is now at zero, and it “could be something that’s a real drag on the digital economy the longer it goes on,” Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said in an interview.
The FCC furloughed 98 percent of its staff and closed most of its operations on Tuesday last week as agencies shut down with Congress unable to agree on spending.
Lawmakers on Thursday discussed a proposal to defuse a parallel disagreement on the US debt ceiling that did not include language to reopen the government.
The agency may become backed up once it resumes operations, creating the potential for delays in the introduction of devices from Google, Apple Inc, Samsung Electronics Co, HTC Corp (宏達電) and LG Electronics Inc, law firm Hogan Lovells said in an note on Wednesday.
“Increasingly it’s going to have an impact on the widely known and available consumer products, depending on how long the shutdown lasts,” Hogan Lovells Washington-based partner Michele Farquhar said in an interview.
Companies rely on private test laboratories for much of the certification and need the FCC for final approval, said Farquhar, a former wireless bureau chief for the agency.
Products that need approval include smartphones, tablet computers and laptops, she said.
“The longer the shutdown continues, the greater the risk that new devices will sit in warehouses and shipping containers unassembled or pending final design approval,” Hogan Lovells said in its note.
Companies have accelerated electronic product introductions in recent years, with applications at the FCC increasing by 400 percent over the past 10 years, according to Rosenworcel’s testimony to Senate appropriators.
Products typically are planned a year in advance, and devices intended for sale during the fourth quarter that includes Christmas sales normally clear the FCC’s process by June or July, Bruce Franca, a former official in the agency’s Office of Engineering and Technology that vets electronics, said in an interview.
Some Asia-based electronic-
device manufacturers said the shutdown so far has not hindered their US business.
“There is no indication of major impact on Sony’s operation from the US FCC shutdown so far,” Tokyo-based Sony Corp spokeswoman Misato Suzuki said in an e-mail.
“ZTE’s business in the US isn’t affected,” said David Dai (戴澍), spokesman for Shenzhen-based ZTE Corp (中興), China’s second-largest maker of equipment for phone networks.
Angela Lee (李淑賢), a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想), the world’s largest PC maker, said there has been no impact yet on approvals for new devices.
“Moreover, Lenovo has a strong and growing business in the federal sector, and we have not seen any impacts due to the shutdown at this time,” Lee said in an e-mail.