Since Anatel announced that non-homologated mobile devices will be blocked and unable to be used in Brazil, the certifications subject has become more relevant than ever. In this article we will cover the requirements and the procedures for homologation of mobile and cell phones.
All products that perform telecommunications, making use of wired, optical or any other electromagnetic means are required to undergo a process called homologation with the local telecommunication agency, Anatel. The agency, similar to the American FCC, monitors whether the products and frequencies are being used in the appropriate manner and that no interference is caused when the devices are operating.
Smartphones and feature phones are some of best examples of products that require Anatel homologation in order for the device to be legally commercialized and used in the country. These devices belong to category I, which include all products that are defined by Anatel as terminals intended for the final user.
Technical Requirements for Approval of Cell Phones in Brazil
The homologation process for these kinds of wireless terminals have guidelines strictly defined by Anatel, and require laboratory testing of the three main components: the device itself, battery and chargers.
There is a set of regulations that all cellular phones must follow in order to be approved by Anatel, regardless of the technology they use. These regulations contain testing parameters to ensure human safety and that the device is not interfering or generating disturbances that can harm telecommunications. In summary, the tests that are performed on devices are:
- Electromagnetic compatibility: Where immunity and resistance disturbance testings are carried out
- Electrical Safety: Testing related to protection against acoustic shock, against the risk of fire, overheating, and electric shock under normal conditions and in case of surges
- Limitation to exposure to electrical, magnetic and electromagnetic fields: Here testings related to Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) will be performed on the device to be homologated
- Functional tests of GSM / GPRS, WCDMA and LTE technologies in all their voice and data operating modes and respective frequencies
- IPv6, which is currently is being evaluated for 3G and 4G technologies
Besides those aforementioned, the device must also follow a set of specifications that are determined according to the type of technology used for cellular communications, namely GSM, WCDMA LTE, etc. These parameters follow the technical specifications determined by industrial telecommunications associations:
- 3GPP defines the standard for GSM TS 51.010-1 V6.5.0 (2005-11) and for LTE TS 36.521-1 V9.5.0 (2011-06)
- ETSI standard TS 134 121-1 V9.1.0 (2010-07) is used for WCDMA/HSDPA/HSUPA and ETSI TS 134 121-1 V9.4.0 (2011-03) for HSPA+
Standards for 5G phones will most likely follow 3GPP standards when these are ready.
Lithium batteries, including external power banks and the mobile chargers are also required to be homologated by Anatel and have specific guidelines set by the agency. These also need to be tested separately, but the approval of the mobile device depends on the compliance of all components.
Obtaining the Approval of Smartphones and Cell phones with Anatel
It is no surprise that imported products lacking proper homologation from Anatel are confiscated by the customs office and the importer is subject to fines. However, there are still large amounts of active mobile phones lacking the proper approval, with some estimates reaching upwards of 40 million devices. This led the agency, in partnership with local mobile operators to take more harsh action and restrain mobile phones without homologation. According to Anatel’s current roadmap, by the end of 2017, new devices activated on the operator's network without homologation will be blocked.
If you are a manufacturer of a mobile device and need to have your product compliant with Anatel, the first step is to contact a company that will handle the procedure for you, known as an OCD. Master Certificações is a renowned OCD in the Brazilian market, managing certifications of products with Anatel on behalf of manufacturers worldwide and is ready is assist you in the process.
Contrary from what many believe, Anatel is not directly involved in the testing of the products. The OCDs have an instrumental role in the homologation of telecommunications terminals, from the collection of samples to be tested, to analysing the results and verifying the phone is in compliance with the local regulations. The OCD may also require assessment of the production facilities for auditing purposes and require certificates to prove the manufacturing quality management system. It is the OCD’s responsibility to issue the conformity certificate for the tested products as well.
The conformity certificate shows that the product is suitable to receive the homologation, and once Anatel receives it, they have the base to issue your product homologation. Anatel will also request additional documentation directly from the manufacturer to back up the procedure.
Once granted, the homologation is published on Anatel’s public database and the manufacturer must include Anatel’s seal on their products. The OCD will also help you to determine the best location to place the seal, as the mock up will have to be submitted to Anatel. For the device, a simplified seal version is often engraved or printed on the body and the full version is included in the manual.
For batteries and chargers, Anatel requires the seal to be a physical sticker produced by Casa da Moeda do Brasil, which is the company that produces banknotes and coins.
Longer Testing Procedures for Batteries
As mentioned previously, mobile phone models also need to have their batteries and chargers approved. The whole approval procedure for the batteries involve tests that span over several months, and therefore Anatel allows for the OCD to issue a Technical Conformity Certificate for the batteries once the safety tests are concluded.
This Conformity Certificate is issued with a limited expiration date and allows the mobile device to be homologated and commercialised while the tests are being finalised on the batteries. In case the battery fails any of the tests or the results show that the sample is not in accordance with Anatel guidelines, the homologation will be revoked, and the manufacturer have to recall the batteries and remove them from the market within 150 days.