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Monday, January 27, 2014

10 Meter ham radio regulations update and evidence

As promised we have been digging into the situation on the importing, sales, and use of the 10 meter, or 10 and 12 meter only, so called "export" radios coming into this country by the thousands.

On the one hand there are hundreds of legitimate radio wholesalers buying these radios from importers and manufacturing companies, and reselling them to dealers across the country who sell them to anybody that has the money.

On the other hand there are ham radio companies that won't touch them with a 10 foot pole with a red hot poker on the end.  Some claim is made by some hams that they are ALL illegal CBs and that anyone that buys one has "rocks in his head". I actually heard that from one extra class ham recently.

Let's try to sort this out. The first piece of "evidence" we present is a document furnished to me, to back up the claim that all these 10 meter only "export" radios are totally illegal to import, sell, and use in the USA by anyone, even a licensed amateur radio licensee.

Now remember while you are reading the link below, that there are literally thousands of this type of radio coming into the country through US Customs as we speak, and they are being sold to absolutely anyone that cares to buy one, including dealers and end users nation wide. Also remember that each and every one of them WILL NOT TRANSMIT on the CB band (40 channels) in the configuration they are in when they came into the country. In that configuration, transmit on CB channels is blocked by some internal circuitry which has to be defeated before they will transmit on CB frequencies (11 meters).

The question we are asking and have been researching is this:
If these radios are used in the configuration they are in when they are imported (CB transmit blocked) by a ham radio operator with a valid Technician class or above license, and if they are used only on ham frequencies in the 10 or 12 meter band as the case may be, and NOT used to transmit on the CB frequencies (40 channels class D CB) and remain unmodified to transmit on CB, is it illegal for that licensed ham operator to buy, own, and or use that radio on the ham band segments of the spectrum their class of license is authorized for?

There is a certain amount of evidence to wade through to get at the answer, and the next piece to the puzzle might be the following case from an FCC citation in 2005, where a radio dealer was advertising these radios as both ham and CB radios, and was modifying the radio to work on CB frequencies. Bear in mind that the FCC usually issues warning letters at least once and probably several times before they issue a citation, so this dealer probably ignored the warnings and was cited. I don't know the eventual outcome but will comment on the citation itself after you read it.
Here is the link to the citation:

Notice that in this citation many of the same models of radios are on the list as in the first letter, and also I would like to point out that several certified CB radios, that ONLY transmit on CB frequencies, are on the first list, but not this last one.  Those are Galaxy models DX919, DX929, DX959, DX979, DX2547. These Galaxy models have always been certified CB radios running legal power levels of 4 watts AM and 12 watts SSB max. The interesting thing is that they don't appear on the official FCC citation which is a legal document, while they do appear on the first document, which leads one to believe that the first document is not an official FCC document at all, but someone else trying to steer the market in their own direction. In fact one of the wholesalers that I have bought many thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from for 2 decades who also handles the 10 meter "export" radios as well as many models of certified CBs, was very convinced the first article is entirely bogus. Here is his comment:
"This list is not from the FCC. Some Amateur radio organization made it. Take a look. Five of the models listed under Galaxy are FCC Type Certified CB models."

The real telling part of this citation is in section 3. Here is the pertinent part:
"Section 2.803(a)(1) of the Rules provides that “… no person shall sell or lease, or offer for sale or lease (including advertising for sale or lease), or import, ship or distribute for the purpose of selling or leasing or offering for sale or lease, any radio frequency device unless: (1) In the case of a device subject to certification, such device has been authorized........."

None of these radios are certified because they qualify as Ham equipment and ham equipment is not subject to certification except Amplifiers! They go on to explain in part 5 why this type of dual use ham equipment is NOT certified.
From the citation:
"Additionally, dual use CB and amateur radios of the kind at issue here may not be certificated under the Commission’s rules. Section 95.655(a) of the Rules6 states “….([CB] Transmitters with frequency capability for the Amateur Radio Services….will not be certificated).” See also FCC 88-256, 1988 WL488084 (August 17, 1988). This clarification was added to explicitly foreclose the possibility of certification of dual use CB and amateur radios, see id., and thereby deter use by CB operators of frequencies allocated for amateur radio use."
They are clearly trying to protect the amateur radio operators from getting illegal traffic on the 10 and 12 meter bands, and having the same situation on those bands as the current mess on CB frequencies. The whole truth that they don't say here is the absolute undeniable fact that NO ham equipment is required to be certified with the exception of external RF amplifiers. NO equipment including the radios that many hams build FROM SCRATCH, and put right on the air, need any certification whatsoever by the FCC, period.  Ham radio has always been about research and development, and if we had to go beg some government agency every time we had a good idea for a radio device most of the great inventions in radio just simply would not exist today. 

CB radios ARE subject to certification, but these "export" radios are not being imported as CB radios, and are not sold as such unless the dealer is modifying, or offering to modify them to do the CB band. And that, my friends, is when the FCC gets excited and starts sending out warning letters.

Everyone seems to have a different opinion. Here is one quote from one of the ham forums when they were talking about "dual use" radios.
"What modern transceiver from ICOM, KENWOOD, ALINCO, or YAESU is NOT "easily converted to coverage outside 10m as are other radios of this type"?  To get general coverage transmit on these Ham radios requires no more effort than what is required to expand the coverage of these 10 meter radios.  I am not supporting illegal out of band operation, but lets be honest about this.  The problem does not only involve these 10 meter type radios."

So now back to my question.  What is the answer? Can licensed ham operators buy, and use one of these "export" radios if they stay in the ham bands, and operate within the guidelines for their class of license, and the guidelines for the ham band they are on, and never modify the radio to do the CB bands?

Remember, we are looking for something official, and definitive here. We are looking for something right out of the horse's mouth, so to speak.  While the following won't be the end of our research because we think the question in this communication from the FCC was not very well worded, this answer from the FCC is spurring us on to dig out some of the actual court cases and how they were resolved, so stay tuned, because it seems that in the following determination with the case ID number HD0000002214012 it says they CAN be used in the ham bands.  Is this actually true, or is it the FCC trying to set up another sting operation so they can cite, and fine more people?  You decide, but stay tuned. We are going to find the answer.

If, in fact, these radios are illegal to import, and sell, and use, then it begs the question, Why does the FCC and the US Customs continue to allow them to be imported and sold? And when they do some kind of enforcement action, and pick just one person to persecute, isn't that selective prosecution? Why not shut the whole thing down? If you want more on 'selective prosecution' just do a search on the term. The internet is full of evidence from law libraries and cases showing selective prosecution is totally unlawful.
See you next time, and please comment below.

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