FCC Warns on Noncompliant VHF/UHF Two-Way Radios
Monday, September 24, 2018 | Comments

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau released an enforcement advisory, noting that it has observed that an increasing number of conventional retailers and websites that advertise and sell low-cost, two-way VHF/UHF radios that do not comply with the FCC’s rules. Many of the radios violate one or more FCC technical requirements, the commission said.

“Such devices are used primarily for short-distance, two-way voice communications and are frequently imported into the United States,” the notice said. “These radios must be authorized by the FCC prior to being imported, advertised, sold or operated in the United States.”

Some of the radios can be modified to transmit on public-safety and other land mobile channels for which they are not authorized, while others are capable of prohibited wideband operations. “Such radios are illegal, and many have the potential to negatively affect public safety, aviation and other operations by federal, state and local agencies, as well as private users,” the FCC said.

Violators may be subject to substantial monetary penalties — up to $19,639 per day of marketing violations and up to $147,290 for an ongoing violation.

Equipment that does not comply with the technical requirements cannot be certified and thus cannot be imported, advertised, sold or used. There is an amateur radio exception to the certification requirement. If a device is capable of operating only on frequencies that the FCC has allocated for use by amateur radio service licensees, it does not require FCC equipment authorization, and an amateur licensee may use his or her license to operate such radios.

“If a two-way VHF/UHF radio is capable of operating outside of the amateur frequency bands, it cannot be imported, advertised, sold or operated within the United States without an FCC equipment certification,” the notice said. “Even if a two-way VHF/UHF radio operates solely within the amateur frequencies, the operator is required to have an amateur license to operate the device and must otherwise comply with all applicable rules.”

Prior to purchase or operation, individuals should ensure that a device is either labeled as FCC-compliant or operates solely within amateur frequencies.

For additional information, visit https://www.fcc.gov/engineering-technology/laboratory-division/general/equipment- authorization and https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/bureau-divisions/mobility-division/amateur-radio-service.

“The members of the LMCC, which all have a stake in protecting the authorized use of spectrum, applaud the action taken by the FCC in this matter," said Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC) President David Smith. "As the advisory makes clear, violating these rules can result in substantial monetary fines. Anyone importing, advertising or selling noncompliant devices should cease doing so. Anyone owning such devices should stop using them. The LMCC encourages the Enforcement Bureau to follow this advisory with swift enforcement of those who continue to violate these established rules.”

In August, the FCC released a citation and order against Amcrest Industries for selling an unauthorized Baofeng radio. The full enforcement advisory is here.

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Comments
On 10/7/18, Fred said:
eBay was notified by the FCC, telling them to stop sellers from selling non-FCC-compliant VHF and UHF radios, but eBay is not doing so and is breaking federal laws.

As long as eBay is making money they do not give a damn about any FCC laws.

Shame on eBay the LAW BREAKER.

On 10/3/18, Niko said:
I have seen many non-certified transmitters sold on Amazon and Ebay in the past five years or so.

I was worried those transmitters, which can transmit such wide frequencies, may be used by a person who does not know much about radio regulation and could cause harmful interference.

It is time the FCC steps in to show they mean serious business.

On 10/3/18, Craig said:
All Alinco, Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu radios including many of their commercial products can be easily modified to work outside of the amateur bands. That would also include many commercial radio products as well from Motorola, Relm, BK, etc.

If you read the advisory in the strictest interpretation possible, nearly all of the radios currently within the U.S. market would suddenly be considered non-compliant including nearly every single Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) product in current amateur and commercial use as the advisory currently states that

" ... if a device is capable of operating only on frequencies that the FCC has allocated for use by amateur radio service licensees it does not require FCC equipment authorization, and an amateur licensee may use his or her license to operate such radios."

However many two-way radios that purport to operate on amateur frequencies also operate on frequencies that extend beyond the designated amateur frequency bands. If a two-way VHF/UHF radio is capable of operating outside of the amateur frequency bands, it cannot be imported, advertised, sold or operated within the United States without an FCC equipment certification.

Simply using the various DMR/LMR products on amateur radio frequencies for example would still violate the strictest interpretation of the new rule, along with thousands of other radios with MARS CAP mods as those radios all transmit outside of the amateur bands and are not currently specifically certified for out-of-band MARS CAP use.

Again using the strictest interpretation possible, that would make nearly every single amateur radio operator within the U.S. in violation of this new advisory as every Alinco, Icom, Kenwood or Yaesu radio that we own including various Chinese radios would suddenly be noncompliant as they all can be or have been already easily modifiable.

I don't think that's truly the FCC's intent so we'll probably see some additional clarification on this advisory in the upcoming weeks or months ahead.


On 9/28/18, thomas dunaway said:
Of course some companies that sell expensive radios would applaud it. I'll operate what I want, where I want and when I deem it necessary.


On 9/26/18, Adam Russell said:
If a device is capable of operating ONLY on frequencies that the FCC has allocated for use by amateur radio service licensees, it does not require FCC equipment authorization, and an amateur licensee may use his or her license to operate such radios.

If a two-way VHF/UHF radio IS capable of operating OUTSIDE of the amateur frequency bands, it cannot be imported, advertised, sold or operated within the United States without an FCC equipment certification.

On 9/26/18, Hans Donnerborg said:
Next will be that Trump bans all cheap radios because they are made in China.

I don't care; I don't live in U.S.
I got one China radio that covers five different purposes.
amateur boat volunteer service ...

On 9/25/18, Philip Smith said:
I have radios that are also capable of transmitting on the CB band. When I purchased the HF radio, it was just the standard HF bands. New bands were opened up to me, so I opened the radio up to work these bands. There was no way to avoid not opening the CB band. I use it strictly for ham. Does this mean I have to get rid of this radio also?

On 9/24/18, William McMillan said:
So I have many radios. I have one Baofang. If I operate this radio in the amateur band, am I breaking any laws? The reason I ask is that there are hams telling me it is an illegal radio, and I cannot possess said radio. It wasn't illegal when I bought it. Could really use some clear language to this new can of worms just opened.

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