The Internet of Things (IoT) is made possible by networked devices—28 billion connected devices by 2020, some forecasters say.

The connected part of connected devices is the radio.  Embedded radios make it possible for devices to connect to one another, to gateways, to the cloud, to users, and more.

Most of your tech products have at least one embedded radio — your smartphone, your laptop, your wireless router, your television… but radios are also in all the sensors and devices that make the IoT ecosystem possible: from connected cars and connected machines to smart medical devices, smart home products, and more, all the way through to industrial IoT.

We’re seeing massive growth in the number of devices using radio technology, as more and more “smart” products hit the market. But all these radio circuits are subject to testing and certification, by standardization organizations such as the FCC.

And standards are a good thing—thanks to strict standards, you don’t have to worry that your pacemaker will stop working when you plug in your phone. Considering the number of connected devices we’re anticipating, these standards are essential for ensuring that devices don’t harm or interfere with one another (or their users).

But testing and certification can be expensive – thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the device and whether it passes testing or needs to be recertified.  

So from new startups to established enterprise companies, organizations are hungry to understand how they can design devices that will meet FCC standards, so that those products can go to market.

In the most recent RIoT Lunch & Learn, we heard from industry leader TÜV SÜD about modular approvals. Some organizations use pre-certified radio modules – basically technology that’s already been certified by the FCC or other certification – within their products. So instead of designing everything custom then trying to gain approval, organizations can use pre-certified modules—with the hope of having to do less testing and certification.

TÜV SÜD’s Randy Sherian, RTP EMC & Wireless Lab Manager, discussed this strategy. He shared an important piece of advice—if you’re using a pre-approved module, make sure it’s actually approved. His organization has seen dire consequences for companies that integrate a module, thinking it was preapproved, only to find out later that it was not.

His talk covered best practices and strategy for both North America and Europe, sharing more about regulatory requirements and the integration of wireless capabilities with our Lunch & Learn audience. He discussed how to identify and confirm whether a module is certified, by finding out and then confirming the module’s FCC ID, which is assigned to all devices subject to certification.

Randy also discussed how using one pre-approved module does not necessarily mean that an entire device will pass certification; how that pre-approved module is integrated with other technology in the device may affect whether or not the device passes certification—even if the device uses pre-approved modules.

If companies are aware of these challenges upfront, they are more likely to navigate the testing and certification process effectively—which saves time and money, and gets products to market faster.

A big thank you to Randy and TÜV SÜD for sharing this information with the RIoT community. With the connected devices ecosystem growing rapidly, certification is vital, but it can be a cost and time prohibitive hinderance. That’s why it’s vital for our IoT community to discuss strategies and partners for negotiating the balance between new and certified, and for companies to be aware that using a “pre-approved” module doesn’t guarantee certification.


TÜV SÜD is an independent testing company, offering impartiality in all audit, test, inspection and certification activities for regulatory compliance.

RIoT is a non-profit economic development organization capturing and creating IoT opportunities locally, regionally, and globally. Our next Lunch & Learn event, Get Your Motor Running, will be hosted by Arrow Electronics on December 20th in Raleigh. Our next official RIoT event is Smart and Connected Gigabit Cities with US Ignite on January 22nd in Durham. Follow RIoT at for news and updates about partners like TÜV SÜD and more upcoming Lunch & Learn events.