FCC issues enforcement advisory about noncompliant VHF/UHF radios
FCC officials will enforce rules prohibiting the importation, marketing, sale or use of low-cost, two-way radios that do not comply with the agency’s technical requirements, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau stated in an enforcement advisory released this week.
In the advisory, the FCC enforcement unit states that it has observed a “growing number” of retailers and web sites that advertise and sell noncompliant VHF/UHF radios, noting that they “frequently” are imported into the United States.
“Many of these radios violate one or more FCC technical requirements,” according to the FCC advisory. “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.
“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.”
Specifically, violators of the FCC’s marketing rules could be subject to fines as great as $19,639 per day and as much as $147,290 for an ongoing violation, according to the enforcement advisory.
Non-certified radio equipment can be imported, sold and used in the United States, if the device can operate only on frequencies dedicated to amateur-radio services; however, the user must have an amateur license, according to the FCC advisory. If the radio can operate on non-amateur bands, it must be certified by the FCC, the advisory states.
In addition, radios may not be modified, except in “very limited exceptions, after being authorized,” according to the enforcement advisory.
The FCC’s enforcement advisory was released after numerous reports within the two-way-radio community of noncompliant radios—primarily devices manufactured in China that significantly exceed allowable power levels, creating interference concerns—being sold in the United States. Last month, the FCC issued a citation and order against Amcrest Industries, a Texas-based dealer that sold at least one model of a noncompliant radio.
One organization that has been outspoken in its opposition to the use of these noncompliant radios in the U.S. is the Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC), which expressed support for the FCC’s enforcement advisory.
“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,” LMCC President David Smith said in a prepared statement. “The LMCC encourages the Enforcement Bureau to follow this advisory with swift enforcement of those who continue to violate these established rules.”
Mark Crosby, Enterprise Wireless Alliance president and CEO, as well as LMCC secretary/treasurer, echoed this sentiment.
“It’s a pretty profound policy statement out of the enforcement bureau,” Crosby said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “I thought it was an excellent public notice. The next step is to catch somebody and issue a fine. I don’t care whether that’s a distributor or somebody that offers these [non-compliant radios] on their web site, I want somebody to get caught and get fined, because that’s the ultimate true test.
“I know that there are people out there that shouldn’t be using these things. And I know that there are people out there that say, ‘The FCC isn’t going to catch me.’ You know what? They will. All it takes is for someone to say, ‘Joe Schmo is using these things.’ Then, at the right time, the FCC will show up at your door.”