We take wireless devices for granted these days, and it is easy to forget that the use of the airwaves is subject to government control — the FCC in the United States. HobbyKing got a sharp reminder when the FCC levied a nearly $3 million fine for the company selling uncertified drone transmitters.
It was hardly a surprise, though. The FCC has been cracking down on these noncompliant transmitters for a while now and had issued a notice of apparent liability to the company back in 2018 and the investigation goes back to 2016. The problems included radios being sold that were on unauthorized frequencies, radios with higher than legal output power, and selling radios that were not type accepted.
Ham radio operators are allowed to buy and use radios that are not type accepted, presumably because they have the technical know-how to operate them without interference. But other types of radios do need type acceptance.
According to the FCC, “In its response to the NAL, HobbyKing did not contest that it marketed devices without equipment certifications or that it failed to respond fully to the Bureau. Instead, HobbyKing raised several unpersuasive legal challenges.”