Last Post: August 22, 2004:
I have read in the CWNA materials and elsewhere that it is an FCC requirement that antennas must be certified by the manufacturer for use with the RF equipment to which they are attached. The exception being that "qualified installers" may subsitute any antenna, so long as the FCC EIRP requirement is met.
I brought this up with my employer's legal department, asking for a definitive ruling, because 1) I looked through Title 47 part 204 and did not see language that clearly stated such a requirement or such an exception and 2) there are a number of people (sales and engineering) in my company who have done and say they will continue to substitute manufacturer antennas just because.
To make a long story short, the legal department has essentially declined to comment, suggesting that we follow the manufacturers' "recommendations"
In my role as wireless subject matter expert and wireless design engineer, I find myself between a rock and a hard place here. Given that there are many places out on the web where one can purchase all manner of third party antennae, pigtails, etc. to make it possible to connect any manufacturer's antenna to any other manufacturer's RF equipment, what's a body to do? With Legal unable or unwilling to make a determination, and Sales pushing to move anything a customer wants, including "cheaper" antennae I find myself loooking pretty foolish pulling out my CWNA book or my Cisco training materials and pointing to the pages therein as my backup.
Any suggestions? Any help?
Hope this helps!
I too am considered wireless subject matter expert and wireless design engineer for my company and also have fought that battle between sales, legal and FCC rules and regulations. Even currently I seek a more definitive answer, but am left to say that if the installer can test and certify the installation with available third party antennae then I can supply parts that would enable that installation and not be responsible for it's operability.
It's a sore spot because according to the FCC the connectors were supposed to be "proprietary or unique" to the manufacturer. We all know how well that went. Antennas, connectors, cables and supplies will continue to become easier to obtain and cheaper to purchase. This will increase the number of "SOHO" users that will want a cheap, viable wireless design that would like multiple devices in as large of an area as possible. They will want to get the "uncertified" antennas and use them at their own risk.
The installer tests and certifies installations that require it. If the equipment is already certified by the manufacturer as a whole by the FCC then this relieves the burdon on the installer and thus holds the manufacturer liable...unless the "system" as a whole has been modified in some way.
That's what I get out of the rules anyway.
or whatever antennas your company carries with the appropriate connectors
I dont have the link handy, but as I understand the most recent FCC pronouncement, no longer does a manufacturer have to certify specific antennae for use with its products. Instead, they can publish the full specs, and if an installer can provide an alternative that is equal to or less than the published spec, it will be OK to use without having to certify it.
For example, if Cisco published a spec for a 5dBi 135 degree sector antenna, and you can find a 4.5 dBi 135degree sector antenna from another source, it will be OK to use that antenna provided no characteristic exceeds what Cisco publishes.
this makes decent reading.