FCC Enforcement Advisory Concerning Two-Way VHF/UHF Radios

On September 24, 2018, the Federal Communications Commisssion (FCC) published Enforcement Advisory No. 2018-03 (the Advisory)—titled Two-way VHF/UHF radios may not be imported, advertised, or sold in the United States unless they comply with the Commission’s rules—in response to “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.” 1 The Advisory has been published in PDF, DOC, and plain text formats.

One item of note in the Advisory is an Amateur Radio Exception which appears to disallow the use of uncertified devices by Amateur Radio Service (ARS) licensees.

The Advisory “follows an August 1 Citation and Order to Amcrest Industries, LLC (formerly Foscam Digital Technologies, LLC), an importer and marketer of popular and inexpensive BaoFeng handheld transceivers, alleging that the company violated FCC rules and the Communications Act by illegally marketing unauthorized RF devices.” 2

The Advisory was inspired in part, as evidenced by footnote 4 on page 2, by a letter from the Land Mobile Communications Council to FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly dated June 7, 2018:

The members of the Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC) wholeheartedly endorse your efforts to enlist the support of eBay and Amazon to partner with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in fighting the distribution of illegal products that fail to comply with and/ or falsely use FCC branding on their devices. LMCC is a nonprofit association of organizations that represent the wireless communications interests of public safety, critical infrastructure, business, industrial, transportation, private carriers, and manufacturers of wireless communications equip ment. The LMCC has a similar concern to that which you have raised regarding non-compliant set-top boxes that are sold through those two companies. Our issue is the widespread importation , distribution, and use of radio frequency devices that do not comply with FCC rules.

The two-way radios in question are being marketed for use by any individual or entity, for any purpose , without regard to Federal and non-Federal spectrum allocations, user eligibility, or licensing requirements. Some devices indicate that they have been certified by the FCC while others do not. Even those that display an FCC certification are shipped to consumers and businesses from eBay and Amazon preprogrammed on a variety of channels for which the user is ineligible including aeronautical, broadcast auxiliary, and public safety frequencies. 3

On-line mentions of the Advisory include:

Amateur Radio Exception

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. 1


  1. “Enforcement Advisory No. 2018-03”, Federal Communications Commission, retrieved October 3 2018, https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-18-980A1.pdf↩︎ ↩︎

  2. “via the ARRL: FCC Enforcement Advisory Targets Noncompliant Imported VHF/UHF Transceivers”, This Week in Amateur Radio, retrieved October 3 2018, http://twiar.net/2018/09/29/via-the-arrl-fcc-enforcement-advisory-targets-noncompliant-imported-vhf-uhf-transceivers/↩︎

  3. “Letter from David Smith, President, and Mark Crosby, Secretary/Treasurer, LMCC to Michael O’Rielly, Commissioner, FCC”, Land Mobile Communications Council, retrieved October 3 2018, http://lmcc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/LMCC-Letter-ORielly-re-NonComDev-060718.pdf↩︎