Monday, January 18, 2021

FCC Reminder


Amateur & Personal Radio Users Reminded Not to Use Radios in Crimes

  • Full Title: Warning: Amateur and Personal Radio Services Licensees and Operators May Not Use Radio Equipment to Commit or Facilitate Criminal Acts
  • Document Type(s): Public Notice
  • Bureau(s): Enforcement

The FCC Enforcement Bureau issued today an advisory to remind licensees and operators in the Amateur and Personal Radio Services that they may not use radio equipment to commit or facilitate crimes.

  • DA/FCC #: DA-21-73

The ARRL has posted the full text here

To clarify: The Personal Radio Service includes the cheap blister-pack FRS radios you can buy on the end cap at Wally World, the slightly more expensive and maybe slightly higher quality GMRS radios you have to actually look for. FRS radios require no license, GMRS radios do, but its a blanket; you, as owner, buy a license and it covers all the units you own, and whoever you allow to use one.

The Amateur Radio Service is, well, amateur radio operators. You have to take a test to get the license. As such, any licensed ham KNOWS you can't use any of these devices in the commission of a crime. 

So why now? Well, one might suggest that this is too little to late.

For about 10 years now you have been able to buy extremely cheap, Chicom made, handheld radios on Amazon. And when I say "extremely cheap", I mean that they cost a little more than that blister-pack pair of FRS radios. 

Also, while they transmit on the frequency you program in, they signal is very "dirty", with what are technically referred to as "spurious transmissions" or "spatter." In fact, bench testing indicates that most of these Chicom units, sometimes called "Kaodungs"as a mocking form of the names of many of these. (They're Chinese. They come from the same factories, made by the same slave labor, sold with different brand names. Or aliases, take your pick)

They are also problematic because they come off the boat able to transmit on many bands which it is illegal to transmit on in the USA without the appropriate licensing. And I am not talking about amateur bands, either. No, I'm talking about bands that are reserved for commercial or government or public safety use. Bands that you can get severe fines or jail time for transmitting on. 

Now, for decades it has been generally accepted that amateur radio operators will acquire radios that operate on any mode or frequency range and modify them to operate where they have operating privileges. And it is not illegal to own a radio you don't have the license to transmit on, as long as... you don't transmit.

And it is legal to use any communications means at hand if life safety is at risk. (Although there's a story about a ham who called for help on a public safety frequency, and got the help and arrested for "interfering with public safety" or some-such, so use with caution.)

ARRL has tested these "Kaodung" units, and like I said above, they have very messy, very bad signals. In fact, they probably do not meet Federal standards for use. Uncle Sam has been trying to stop the influx, to no avail. 

Sometime in the last few months I heard that antifa was using these things to coordinate their mostly peaceful protests. 

I almost titled this post "Too little, too late."

(See also my post "Hammy Stuff" from October 2018.)


Anonymous said...

I have been a licensed ham since 1972, with a break of about 2 years. I have a couple of those Chinese handi talkies. As long as you are aware of what they are, and their limitations,for the prove it is not a bad way for someone who is considering getting into ham radio to be able to just listen to the 2 meter repeaters in their area, just to get an idea of what they are all about.
If nothing else, you can always the one into a rope to throw over a tree limb to put up an Hf antenna.😁😁😁


Drang said...

I bought a couple, since they're cheap enough that if one falls in the river while I'm stacking sandbags I won't care.


Old NFO said...

Yep, a little too late, but they're not going after Pantifa, they're coming after ARRL users for 'coordinating' things... sigh