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Monthly Archives: September 2018

  • FCC issues advisory against the import, sale and use of unauthorized UHF/VHF two way radios

    FCC Enforcement Advisory Banner

    The FCC issued an enforcement advisory today against the import, sale and use of unauthorized VHF/UHF two way radios effective immediately. The advisory reiterated that non-compliant radios can not be imported, sold, advertised or operated by anyone in the United States.

    The advisory was issued September 24, 2018 and implies that a crackdown on cheap, imported radios is imminent. The FCC warned that violators will be subject to penalties, including monetary fines up to $19,639 per day during the violation and up to $147,290 for an ongoing violation.

    The "crack-down" began in early August when the FCC went after an Amazon seller of a variant of the immensely popular Baofeng UV-5R, or more specifically, the UV-5R V2+. The FCC issued a cease and desist order to this seller, making it clear that they considered the UV-5R V2+ to be non-compliant. We discussed this at length in episode 126 of The Two Way Radio Show podcast.

    The latest FCC enforcement advisory points out several examples that would violate the commission's rules, most of which refer to use of these radios on business or Land Mobile frequencies. Specifically:

    - The ability to transmit on public safety and/or other unauthorized channels. Some radios have the ability to transmit on a wide range of frequencies, for example 400-512 MHz. Within this range are frequencies that are reserved for government and public safety use and the radio should prohibit transmission on these. It was absent from this advisory, but the cease and desist mentioned above points out that the UV-5R should not allow the programming of frequencies directly from the keypad by an end user.

    - The ability to transmit using wideband. Several years ago the FCC mandated that radios operating on land mobile frequencies must support a maximum of 12.5 kHz bandwidth. Devices that support 25 kHz were prohibited.

    - Radio devices modified after they are FCC approved. After a radio is approved by the FCC, if changes are made to the radio it generally needs to go through the approval process again.

    - Radio products marketed for Ham/Amateur use that are capable of transmitting outside Amateur frequency bands. Radios intended for use by Amateur Radio operators do not require the typical FCC approval process that business radios require. However, these radios must be locked down to only amateur bands. For example, an amateur radio cannot also transmit on business, GMRS or MURS frequencies.

    The Enforcement Bureau of the FCC noted a substantial number UHF/VHF radios marketed, sold and used in the United States that are not FCC certified or compliant with the rules. These radios are capable of operation on multiple bands across multiple radio services for which they are not certified, increasing the risk of interference to authorized or licensed entities and operations, such as federal government operations and private licensed users. Devices that do not meet the requirements and are not FCC certified for use on these radio services are in direct violation of the rules and should not be used by anyone, unless the user is an amateur radio operator.

    An amateur radio operator, or ham, is the only exception to this requirement, provided the radio is only capable of operating on frequencies reserved for amateur radio operation. However, the operator must have a valid amateur radio license to operate the radio and must only operate it according to the FCC rules.

    Our Plan of Action

    As we mentioned in our podcast, once the cease and desist was issued to the Baofeng seller, we started taking steps to ensure that all of the radios that we sell are compliant. The advisory issued today is actually helpful to us, as it provides specifics on what would be considered non-compliant.

    We currently carry several import radios and market them to Amateur Radio operators. We are now working with the manufacturers of these radios to have all models that we carry locked down to the ham bands only (144-148, 222-225, 420-450 MHz). Some radios will be able to be updated soon with firmware changes, others will be closed out and updated models ordered as they are made available.

    What is the Impact?

    Because we market these products to amateur radio operators, we are more in touch with how this will impact those users. There are certainly users who love the fact that they can have a single radio programmed for their work frequencies and also their ham repeaters. We've also heard of users programming these radios for use on the GMRS. If the FCC is successful, this will soon no longer be an option, although it technically never should have been one.

    Perhaps we'll see many popular radio models re-issued with the same hardware in ham or GMRS only versions. The digital models will likely also have a business radio edition.

    We may also see many of these import radios disappear altogether. Some radios are sold on Amazon at very low prices and they are clearly marketed to businesses, but they only support analog operation. Becoming FCC certified isn't going to be an option for these radios, since the FCC is now requiring most radios to essentially support digital operations in order to be granted approval.

    Read the complete FCC Enforcement Advisary 2018-03 for details.

     

     

  • TWRS-127 - LTE Radio Interview With Icom

    Two Way Radio Show
    We interview Keith Chafin from Icom and discuss the new Icom IP501H Sim Card LTE Two Way Radio. We also share our experiences using weather radios during Hurricane Florence and read some of your comments on our discussion in episode 126 about the FCC citation of the Baofeng UV-5RV2+.

    Intro :00
    Billboard 1:29

    Intro to Interview 1:47
    In our last episode of The Two Way Radio Show, we announced a new IP based radio from Icom called the IP501H that offers instant, full duplex communication. Well, it’s here, and this could be a real game changer! We interviewed Keith Chafin from Icom to find out more about this new radio.

    Interview with Keith Chafin 3:12

    Weather Radios and Hurricane Florence 22:48

    Listener Comments on FCC citation of the Baofeng UV-5RV2+ Radio 39:51

    Question about the Baofeng BF-F8+ 50:20
    Question from a member of the Two Way Radio Forum.

    Wrap up and Close 55:27
    Send in your comments and questions for Danny, Anthony and Rick to show[at]buytwowayradios.com. Feedback on this and other topics will be read by the hosts and included in future episodes of the show. Visit us at www.twowayradioshow.com!

    © 2018 Cricket Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved.


  • Prepare for Hurricane Florence - get a weather radio!

    Hurricane Florence Tracking Map
    Map courtesy National Hurricane Center.

    Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the East Coast of the US, and is expected to make landfall within the next 24 hours. For those on or near the coastline, personal preparation for this monster storm should already be at or near completion. For those who are further inland, there is still some time to prepare, but the storm is closing in. Are you ready?

    If you don't have an emergency preparedness kit, build one now. You can find the list of the 13 most essential items needed for an emergency kit on The Department of Homeland Security's web site at https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit. You can also download a printable version of the FEMA emergency checklist in pdf format to print out and carry with you or post in a convenient location.

    Of course, one of three most important items on this list is a Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert.

    All of our handheld FRS and GMRS radios are battery powered, and many also feature NOAA weather channels with emergency and weather alerts. One model, the Midland EX37VP, is a complete FRS radio emergency kit with a flashlight and emergency whistle - two other items on the DHS emergency preparedness list. Choosing this model checks off multiple items on your list.

    Some of our portable weather radios, such as the ER210 and ER310, are multi-function devices equipped with built-in SOS beacons/flashlights, digital clocks, USB charging adapters, and multiple power options. These weather radios include a dynamo hand crank as recommended in the DHS emergency list, and even solar power!

    Some of our NOAA approved desktop weather radios, such as the Midland WR400, are not only equipped with S.A.M.E. Digital Technology, but also include other features such an emergency battery backup.

    We also have a weather radio that does it all in one unit. The Midland XT511 Base Camp Two Way / Emergency Crank Radio has almost everything you need for emergency communications. It's a 22 channel GMRS two way radio with NOAA all hazards alert weather alert radio, AM/FM radio, alarm clock, built-in flashlight, emergency hand crank, both AC and DC adapters, USB charging port, and hand microphone. The alert override automatically switches to emergency weather alert broadcasts while you listen to the AM/FM radio.

    There are many models to choose from, and the features vary. Which emergency radio is best for you? Our Emergency Weather Radio Comparison Guide lists some of our models and puts them all on one simple chart so you can compare their key features fast. The guide is FREE to download and print for your personal use.

    To learn more about emergency weather radios, listen to The Two Way Radio Show Episode 13 - Emergency and Weather Radios.

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