Do you ever wonder whether the equipment that you are using is certified by any organization or authority that determines their adequacy? Do you question if using it is safe for your employees and customers? We have all seen those signs on the outer labels of our electronics, but what do they mean, and what other testing does a device undergo? The question is very broad and depends mostly on the application and environment it is meant to operate in – let’s look at the telematics technology certification that Geotab devices go through.
PTCRB is a North American certification for GSM, UMTS, and LTE devices, managed by CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association) and provides a framework for devices designed and deployed on networks supporting these technologies. The testing covers 3 main aspects:
- RSE, or radiated spurious emissions, which measures the emissions by the integrated module while in an active connection, to ensure that it is only emitting on the intended frequency, and that all measured emissions on other frequencies are below certain levels
- OTA, or Over the Air testing, which evaluates the performance of the integrated antenna to make sure it meets the minimum levels of radiation (total radiated power) and sensitivity (total isotropic power).
- SIM testing, which for GSM/UMTS devices is done around the electrical interface of the SIM card holder for ESD or other concerns.
FCC and IC certifications are American and Canadian government imposed regulatory certifications performed on electronics sold in those countries, to ensure that any electromagnetic interference caused by these devices are below set standards. The FCC and IC marks on the label are usually accompanied by numbers that represent the associated approved device with the FCC or IC. Under very specific conditions, sometimes the integrator is exempted from the bulk of this testing and is allowed to leverage the integrated module approvals, with the exception of FCC part 15b which covers unintentional radiation when the radio is on but not in an active connection.
CE can be considered to be the European equivalent of FCC and applies to devices either manufactured in Europe or manufactured elsewhere but are intended for the European market, and it is a self certification. Once the device is determined to require CE marking, and the applicable directives are chosen (there are over 20 of them), the testing and assessment are completed by the manufacturer and/or a third party, and a declaration of conformity is issued by the manufacturer, and only then is the CE marking allowed to be affixed onto the device.
J1455 is a standard set by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and covers the conditions under which an electronic device may come in a vehicle. These conditions include climatic, dynamic, and electric environments. The standard also specifies the test sets that simulate such conditions, and they include but are not limited to load dump, burst transients, electrostatic discharge, radiated and conducted emissions, thermal shock, operational shock, humidity, mechanical vibration, etc…Testing against this standard is not mandatory but is a very commonly requested approval and is considered to be a guideline and a set of recommendations for automotive applications.
Networks and carriers may also request additional testing. Some may have higher OTA requirements than those specified by PTCRB, and some may put more emphasis on radiated and conducted emissions. Another aspect is the application itself. Does a device constantly retry to register or establish a data connection on the network or does it back off gradually after a number of tries when in an area of weak or no coverage? Can it perform over the air updates and download the necessary device profile information when applicable? How does it behave when deactivated? How does it respond to network requests made to the device? The tests vary between networks based on their coverage maps, and the supported technology (CDMA vs. 2G/3G).
Geotab’s devices are also all built with RoHS compliant material and processes, and can all be recycled. Ever noticed the “do not trash” and “recycle” signs printed on the plastic on the GO6 device?
For more information on the compliance and certification process, please contact Geotab.