I told you it wasn’t wise to talk about politics, obviously that didn’t last long.

The FCC has released a Public Notice DA 18-980.

The short version of this notice is that VHF/UHF radios can not be imported, sold, advertised, or operated in the US without first being authorized by the FCC. Meaning, unless the FCC has not approved these radios, they must not be sold in the US. The primary target of this notice seems to be the popular Baofeng radios and other cheaper similar radios from China. If you’re not aware. These radios are an cost effective option for many ham radio operators. Most handheld VHF/UHF radios are still very expensive. Most are over the $100 mark and some can be over $300 or $400!

The Baofeng radio offers a cheaper option for hams and is a great entry into the hobby. At just $24 and some change as of this writing, it really is a cost effective solution.

The details of the notice.

I’m really haveing difficulty understanding where we are going with this. My understanding of what the FCC is saying here may be a bit confused, mainly because there is a lot of variable information out there. They’re saying if the radio is NOT type accepted for part 90 or part 95 (GMRS,FRS, Etc) then the radio can not be advertised, sold, etc. The exception to this is if the radio is used for amateur radio it does not require the certification UNLESS it is accepted for any other parts where it can transmit.

Confused yet?

So what I gather here is. If your radio can transmit on GMRS/FRS/Public safety freqencies, then it’s illegal. I honestly take issue with this because, as the licesned operator, I am responsible for the safe and legal operation of the transmitter. Telling me that a radio that can transmit outside of the Amateur Radio Service is illegal because it isn’t type accepted for that other service (part) even if I am using the radio only in the Amateur Spectrum is a little weird to me.

Amateur Radio was build on building you’re own equipment and experimentation. Modified commercial equipment is where it all started and what most repeaters are built from.

I could be wrong but modifying any radio voids it’s type acceptance anyway, so that makes virtually every radio modified for amateur use illegal?

Several much smarter hams have covered this topic very well and I would encourage you to seek them out via the below links. Be sure to checkout the ARRL’s response as well.

I think one thing is for certain. This entire situation is going to be interesting. The primary concern I have is the lack of personal responsibility. As the operator, we must have the responsibility to operate our radio legally. The same should be said for everything in life. Personal responsibility must exist, but here we are with the government protectionism.

To the issue of these radios being sold or used outside of there intended use. I’d agree the FCC should be enforcing their use and misuse. If they’re being sold to unaware consumers as FRS/GMRS/whatever radios then the FCC should take action. On the other hand, waving the magic wand (or paper) and suddenly making a bunch of (400,000+ I think is the count) radios illegal based on the fact that there are people using them where they shouldn’t is more than heavy handed. Combine this with the language the FCC is using, makes this all a little messy. It’ll be interesting to watch this unfold.

More to read… please do

ARRL’s comments


FCC Notice

Another QRZ article

more on enforcement

A friend of mine in an email exchange said the following that brings up another valid point here

“…I’m not even sure how they’d go about enforcing this. I don’t think they could. Sure, they could crack down on the sales side of things. They could probably also spot check gear when they go to sites for interference complaints. But what are they going to do, knock on every door in the country checking for radios and setup roadblocks to check vehicles for mobiles?”

To which my reply was this video