ARRL has taken a minor exception to the wording of a September 24 FCC Enforcement Advisory pertaining to the importation, marketing, and sale of VHF and UHF transceivers and is in discussion with FCC personnel to resolve the matter. The Enforcement Advisory was in response to the importation into the US of certain radio products that are not FCC certified for use in any radio service, but identified as Amateur Radio equipment.
“While much of this equipment is actually usable on amateur bands, the radios are also capable of operation on non-amateur frequencies allocated to radio services that require the use of equipment that has been FCC certified,” ARRL said. “Such equipment is being marketed principally to the general public via mass e-marketers and not to Amateur Radio licensees.”
ARRL said the upshot is that the general public has been purchasing these radios in large quantities, and they are being used on the air by unlicensed individuals.
“Radio amateurs have complained of increased, unlicensed use of amateur allocations by people who are clearly unlicensed and unfamiliar with Amateur Radio operating protocols,” ARRL said. But while it supports the general tenor and intent of the Enforcement Advisory, ARRL said it disagrees with the FCC on one point.
“In several places, the Enforcement Advisory makes the point that ‘anyone importing, advertising, or selling such noncompliant devices should stop immediately, and anyone owning such devices should not use them,'” ARRL pointed out. “The Advisory broadly prohibits the ‘use’ of such radios, but our view is that there is no such prohibition relative to licensed Amateur Radio use — entirely within amateur allocations — of a radio that may be capable of operation in non-amateur spectrum, as long as it is not actually used to transmit in non-amateur spectrum.
ARRL has had extensive discussions about this issue with FCC Wireless Bureau and Enforcement Bureau staff, and those discussions are ongoing.
“It is important to protect the flexibility of the Amateur Service as essentially an experimental radio service, but it is also very important to stop the unlawful importation and marketing of illegal radios in the United States and the use of those radios by unlicensed persons,” ARRL maintained. “We will keep our members informed as our discussions with FCC on this subject continue.”