The government shutdown that started yesterday has caused all non-essential activities at most federal agencies to stop, and that includes the FCC’s ability to approve devices for sale in the United States. The FCC has announced that it has sent home all non-essential employees and will cease conducting certain activities. As a result, the commission says, “Equipment authorizations, including those bringing new electronic devices to American consumers, cannot be provided.”
Until the FCC is fully operational again, device approvals will not take place, which could prove a problem for smartphone and tablet launches scheduled for later this year. No wireless device can legally be sold in the U.S. without first obtaining FCC approval, so any device not already approved will have to be delayed until approval is secured. The FCC will also be unable to investigate issues related to consumer complaints, consumer protection, and fairness to competition.
Depending on the duration of the government shutdown, the FCC may end up with a backlog of devices awaiting approval. If the shutdown ends in a few days, there probably won’t be any issues. A prolonged shutdown could potentially create problems that affect the releases of some phones or tablets later this year.