Tag Archives: FCC

ARRL takes minor exception to wording of FCC Enforcement Advisory regarding uncertified two-way radios

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric McFadden, who shares the following ARRL response to the FCC Enforcement Advisory we posted last week. The following was published in the ARRL News:

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.”

[…]“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.[…]

Click here to read the full news article.

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The end of cheap non-compliant VHF/UHF two-way radios?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow (N9EWO), who references this thread on RadioReference.com regarding the following FCC Enforcement Advisory:

The Enforcement Bureau (Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has observed that a growing number of conventional retailers and websites advertise and sell low-cost, two-way VHF/UHF radios that do not comply with the FCC’s rules. Such devices are used primarily for short-distance, two-way voice communications and are frequently imported into the United States. These radios must be authorized by the FCC prior to being imported, advertised, sold, or operated in the United States.

Many of these radios violate one or more FCC technical requirements. For example, some 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. Because these devices must be, but have not been, authorized by the FCC, the devices may not be imported into the United States, retailers may not advertise or sell them, and no one may use them. Rather, these devices may only be imported, advertised, sold, or used only if the FCC first has approved them under its equipment authorization process (or unless the devices operate exclusively on frequencies reserved for amateur licensees or they are intended for use exclusively by the federal government). Moreover, with only very limited exceptions, after being authorized, the devices may not be modified. Anyone importing, advertising or selling such noncompliant devices should stop immediately, and anyone owning such devices should not use them. Violators may be subject to substantial monetary penalties.

What Should You Know?

The Bureau has noted an increase in the manufacturing, importation, advertising, and sale of two-way VHF/UHF radios that are not authorized in accordance with the Commission’s rules. Generally, electronic devices that intentionally emit radio waves are required to be certified by the FCC or an authorized third-party certification entity (Telecommunications Certification Body) prior to importation, advertising, sale, or use. Two-way VHF/UHF radios require FCC certification to show compliance with our rules, unless they qualify for a limited exception (see Amateur Radio Exception, below, and Federal government exception at footnote 4).

This certification requirement ensures that equipment complies with technical requirements to avoid causing interference to federal government operations, private licensed operations, and other authorized operations or equipment. Equipment that does not comply with the technical requirements cannot be certified and thus cannot be imported, advertised, sold, or used.

Amateur Radio Exception. There is one exception to this 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,8 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.

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. The Bureau will take very seriously any reports of failures of two-way radio operators to comply with all relevant rules and requirements when using devices in the amateur bands.

What Happens If Manufacturers, Retailers, or Operators Do Not Comply with the FCC’s Rules?

Violators of the Commission’s marketing rules may be subject to the penalties authorized by the Communications Act, including, but not limited to, substantial monetary fines (up to $19,639 per day of marketing violations and up to $147,290 for an ongoing violation).

What Should You Do?

The FCC rules governing two-way VHF/UHF radios are designed to minimize interference to all authorized spectrum users, including important government and public safety operations. Manufacturers, importers, retailers, and radio operators should take the time to learn the FCC rules governing equipment authorization and comply with them. When manufacturing, importing, advertising or selling two-way radios and accessories that either are electronic or have electronic components, manufacturers, importers and marketers should ensure that such devices or components are properly certified and labeled as FCCcompliant and cannot be easily modified to operate outside its grant of certification. Prior to purchase or operation, individuals should ensure that a device is either labeled as FCC-compliant or operates solely within amateur frequencies.

Need more information? For additional information regarding equipment marketing and amateur radio rules, please visit the FCC website at https://www.fcc.gov/engineering-technology/laboratory-division/general/equipmentauthorization and https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/bureau-divisions/mobility-division/amateur-radio-service, respectively. Media inquiries should be directed to Will Wiquist at (202) 418-0509 or will.wiquist@fcc.gov.

To file a complaint, visit https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov or call 1-888-CALL-FCC.

Click here to download the full advisory including footnotes (PDF).

I can’t imagine how many of these non-compliant HTs are floating around on the market. I’m guessing this could also affect the sale of used non-compliant radios–? I’m sure there are a number of amateur radio retailers that have a vast inventory of non-compliant radios that they can no longer sell, without potentially facing serious fines by the FCC.

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Hurricane Florence’s toll on radio stations and cell services

(Source: Tom Taylor Now)

The FCC last night reported that more FMs were out (20) than AMs (three). While nearly 14% of cell sites in the affected areas were out of service – and like the AM/FM picture, virtually all the outages are in coastal North Carolina. Forecasters had predicted the brunt of the storm would fall around Wilmington and New Bern, and that’s how it played out, in slow motion. Friday morning’s NOW reported the Curtis Media radio stations in New Bern were off, as well as Sinclair’s ABC-TV affiliate, WCTI-TV. Both Channel 12 and the Curtis cluster are located very hear the Neuse River, and Sinclair was forced to originate programming from Greenville, instead. WCTI-TV’s still off, as well as sister Fox affiliate WYDO (digital channel 47/virtual channel 12). Likewise, a range of radio stations including Cumulus-owned classic hits “94.5 the Hawk” WKXS and not-for-profit EMF’s contemporary Christian “K-Love” affiliate, WBNK/92.7. One of the three silent AMs carries an ominous name for the current conditions – Cumulus-owned talk “980 the Wave” WAAV. Read last night’s FCC “Status Report” here. The agency’s main page for Hurricane Florence communications is here.

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FCC Audio Programming Inquiry: Implications for HF Broadcasting

Many thanks to Bennett Z. Kobb, Kim Andrew Elliott, and Christopher Rumbaugh for authoring “Comments of the High Frequency Parties” that is now filed with the FCC.

Update: please also check out this FAQ.

Here’s the introduction:

The Public Notice in MB Docket 18-227 requests comment on “whether laws, regulations,
regulatory practices or demonstrated marketplace practices pose a barrier to competitive
entry into the marketplace for the delivery of audio programming … [and] concerning the
extent to which any such laws, regulations or marketplace practices affect entry barriers for
entrepreneurs and other small businesses in the marketplace for the delivery of audio
programming.”

The Commission’s Rules do pose barriers to entry and unnecessarily restrict the licensing
and delivery of programming by International Broadcast Stations.

These rules originated in a period when the government utilized or countenanced privately owned, high-frequency (HF, 3-30 MHz) broadcasters as voices against foreign adversaries.
The rules prohibit stations directed primarily to U.S. audiences. They impose detailed
language, announcement, advertising and record keeping practices, require monitoring of
foreign market particulars, and mandate a minimum DSB transmission power level that is
excessive for domestic service and textual and image content.

These and certain other obsolete restrictions are overdue for review and revision or deletion.[…]

Click here to download and read the full document as a PDF.

Click here to check out the FAQ regarding the HF Broadcasting Filing.

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FCC saga and wireless mic frequencies

Photo by Michael Maasen

(Source: WIRED via Michael Addy)

THE EMAIL BLAST from the head of my son and daughter’s theater group relayed a frantic plea: “We need to raise $16,000 before the upcoming spring performances,” Anya Wallach, the executive director of Random Farms Kids’ Theater, in Westchester, New York, wrote in late May. If the money didn’t materialize in time, she warned, there could be a serious problem with the shows: nobody would hear the actors.

Random Farms, and tens of thousands of other theater companies, schools, churches, broadcasters, and myriad other interests across the country, need to buy new wireless microphones. The majority of professional wireless audio gear in America is about to become obsolete, and illegal to operate. The story of how we got to this strange point involves politics, business, science, and, of course, money.

Four years ago, in an effort to bolster the country’s tech infrastructure, the FCC decreed that the portion of the radio spectrum used by most wireless mics would be better utilized for faster and more robust mobile broadband service. Now, as the telecom companies that won the rights to that spectrum begin to use it, the prior tenants are scrambling for new radio-frequency homes.

[…]Replacing them will not be cheap. Even small community or school theaters can use 30 or more microphones, which, including ancillary gear, can cost $1,000 or more apiece. “I’ll need to replace at least 24 mics, which will cost at least 24 grand,” says Brian Johnson, artistic director of the theater program at La Habra High School, in California. The Shakespeare Theatre Company, in Washington, DC, will spend $50,000 on new mics, says Tom Haygood, their director of production.[…]

Click here to read the full article at WIRED.

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Repeat repeater offender proposed $18,000 FCC fine

(Source: ARRL News)

The FCC has issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) proposing to fine Jerry W. Materne, KC5CSG, of Lake Charles, Louisiana, $18,000 “for apparently causing intentional interference and for apparently failing to provide station identification on amateur radio frequencies,” the FCC said.

“Mr. Materne was previously warned regarding this behavior in writing by the Enforcement Bureau and, given his history as a repeat offender, these apparent violations warrant a significant penalty,” the FCC said in the NAL, released on July 25.

In 2017, the FCC received numerous complaints alleging that Materne was causing interference to the W5BII repeater, preventing other amateur licensees from using it. In March 2017, the repeater trustee banned Materne from using the repeater.

Responding to some of the complaints, the Enforcement Bureau issued a Letter of Inquiry (LOI), advising Materne of the allegations and directing him to address them. Materne denied causing interference but admitted to operating simplex on the repeater’s output frequency. In June 2017, the FCC received an additional complaint alleging that Materne had repeatedly interfered with an attempted emergency net that was called up as Tropical Storm Cindy was about to make landfall. The complaint maintained that Materne “repeatedly transmitted on the repeater’s input frequency, hindering the local emergency net’s ability to coordinate weather warnings and alerts on behalf of the National Weather Service,” the FCC said in the NAL.

Local amateurs were able to track the interfering signal to Materne’s residence and confirmed their findings to the FCC, prompting a Warning Letter advising Materne of the complaint and pointing out that his behavior “as described in the complaint would be a violation of Section 97.101(d) of the Commission’s rules.”[…]

Click here to read full story at the ARRL.

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The “PIRATE Act” promises fines up to $100,000 per day

(Source: Radio World via Mike Hansgen)

Pirate Radio Bill Formally Introduced

Bipartisan legislation designed to thwart and penalize radio pirates and supporters

BY SUSAN ASHWORTH, MAY 9, 2018

Another legislative step has been taken in the effort to fight illegal pirate radio operations.

On May 8, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) formally introduced a bill to Congress designed to thwart and penalize illegal radio operations.

Known as the ‘‘Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act,” the PIRATE Act will increase the ability of the Federal Communications Commission to crack down on pirate activity by increasing fines, streamlining enforcement and placing liability those who facilitate illegal radio broadcasts.

“It is time to take these pirates off the air by hiking the penalties and working with the Federal Communications Commission on enforcement,” Lance said in a statement. Chairman Pai and Commissioner O’Rielly have been able partners in making sure these broadcasts are stopped. This bill will give the FCC even more tools to take down these illegal broadcasts.”

As a commissioner who has long been searching for more Congressional authority to address pirate radio operations, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly commended the effort after the news was announced.

“This bill rightfully increases the penalties, requires regular enforcement sweeps, and augments the tools available to the commission, which are woefully inadequate and outdated, to deal with illegal pirate broadcasters,” O’Rielly said in a statement.[…]

Click here to read the full article via RadioWorld.

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