The dreaded year 2000 issue is not the only time bomb Australian resellers should be concerned with at the moment. There is another deadline looming - one relating to electromagnetic interference (EMI) standards - and it falls on December 30, 1998, a full 12 months before the much-feared millennium Armageddon.
January 1, 1999 is the drop-dead must-comply date for new regulations to be met that require all suppliers of PCs and/or active PC components to ensure products delivered to the Australian market meet minimum EMI emissions standards.
They also have to be labelled with the official Australian Communications Authority (ACA) "C-Tick" logo showing compliance and tracing back to the original supplier.
Sources within ACA confirmed to ARN last week that big vendors, most major local assemblers, and reputable dealers are complying with the regulations, but there are still a number of outfits building machines with substandard, unregistered products.
"If they are brought to our attention, we will chase them up," said the ACA source who also indicated that the biggest avenue for information about non-compliance has been organisations "dobbing in" their competitors.
While the framework is a self-regulatory arrangement that is receiving limited funding from the Federal Government, there are penalties for non-compliance, ranging from a warning to a full recall of product. Where deliberate falsification of compliance is uncovered, significant fines and bans from future registration are set out in the Radiocommunications Act of 1992.
Suppliers - the organisations responsible for first point of entry to Australian markets - need to ensure products comply. They also need to register themselves as a supplier, keep records relating to compliance and label products with the official C-Tick logo.
The Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) framework, introduced by the Australian Communications Authority, covers a broad range of products and industries and includes specific guidelines for the computer industry. There are two ways suppliers can demonstrate compliance: by having the whole box tested once it is assembled, or if it is built up with C-Tick-certified sub-assemblies - such as disk drives, power supplies, motherboards, add-on cards and cases.
While the framework presently only requires computers to limit generation of radio frequency interference, a road map has been set out which will bring regulations into line with much higher world standards.
In the future, suppliers will also have to limit harmonic emissions and voltage fluctuations as well as demonstrating immunity from the effects of radio frequency, electronic discharge and fast transients.
More information is available by visiting the ACA Web site (www.aca.gov.au) and then clicking on the "equipment, requirements and standards" link.