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Trouble ahead? 4G LTE Kindle Fire doesn’t yet have FCC approval for sale

Kindle Fire HDYou’d hope Amazon knows exactly what it’s doing, but the fact that it announced its new high-end 4G LTE Kindle Fire HD tablet before receiving approval for sale from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) will strike some as a little odd, and has been described as unusual by attorneys and analysts with knowledge of the FCC’s procedures .

The FCC tests all new wireless communication devices to discover if they interfere with other signals. Once cleared, the product is allowed to go on sale. According to a Reuters report on Thursday, Amazon has yet to get the green light, despite promising to ship the product on November 20.

The report said that a confirmation email from the e-commerce giant in response to a pre-order for the 8.9-inch 4G LTE Kindle Fire HD said: “We will send you an email asking you to confirm your pre-order of Kindle Fire when it is approved for sale by the Federal Communications Commission.”

Speaking to Reuters about the situation, John Jackson, a wireless analyst at CCS Insight, said, “I can’t think of an instance where a device has been offered by a US carrier or an independent retailer that has not had FCC approval yet.”

Charles Golvin, a wireless analyst at Forrester Research, suggests that failure to get FCC approval prior putting the device on the market can probably be put down to Amazon’s lack of experience with wireless products.

It’s not just the selling of the device which is prohibited prior to FCC approval – marketing is also banned, unless a disclaimer is included in the promotional material.

Amazon is, however, clear about the situation with its new high-end tablet, stating on its website, “The 4G device has not been authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. This device is not, and may not be, offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, until authorization is obtained.”

Mitchell Lazarus of law firm Fletcher told Reuters that in most cases companies with new wireless communication products go through the procedures with the FCC “so they don’t have to make these awkward disclaimers.”

It’s being suggested that approval may be taking a little longer than usual as the 4G wireless modem being used in Amazon’s tablet is of a new type, whereas many gadgets sent to the FCC for approval contain modems used in products previously passed by the FCC, and so go through the process more quickly.

The other Kindle Fires announced by Amazon on Thursday are Wi-Fi only devices and are fit for sale.

If the FCC does find some serious issues with Amazon’s priciest Kindle Fire, the company will have limited time to sort it out before the holiday season kicks off. Failure to have it on the shelves by then would be hugely damaging for the Seatlle-based company as it attempts to increase its share of a market still dominated by Apple with its popular iPad tablet. 

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