The FCC has backpedaled on everything in this article, please go here and read the new article: https://medium.com/@lucky225/fcc-back-peddles-all-transceivers-capable-of-transmitting-on-frequencies-that-require-40377a3722c5

Did the FCC just make Baofengs illegal?

On Monday, September 24th, 2018 the FCC issued Public Notice DA 18–980, Enforcement Advisory № 2018–03 that sent the Amateur Radio community into a frenzy across several Facebook groups. Hackaday went as far as to tell people to buy Baofengs while you still can. So did the FCC just make Baofengs illegal in the United States? Not quite.

The notice advises that the import, sale and marketing of 2-way radios that are capable of operating outside the band they are certificated for is illegal. For example there are some Baofengs that are part 90 certified, and it’s true that some of the UV-5R series were certificated for part 90 but sold and advertised in the US as operating on frequencies outside of part 90, and the FCC cited an importer for illegally marketing this device. However many other Baofengs are Part 90 certificated and do not by default allow you to select frequencies outside of the Part 90 bands.

While it’s true many of the Baofengs are wide open on any frequency in the 136–174Mhz and 400–520Mhz range, and it is illegal to import, market and sell these devices, it is not illegal to own or operate these devices if you are a licensed Amateur radio operator and you are operating only on amateur radio frequencies. It is only illegal to operate these “illegal” devices outside of the amateur bands, or on the amateur bands if you do not have an amateur license. [Edit: An earlier version of this story incorrectly provided only part 90 frequency ranges in the first sentence of this paragraph.]

To further clarify these points below are some screenshots of email correspondence between Noji Ratzlaff (KN0JI) and the FCC.

I wanted to get further clarification though. So I sent the following email to the FCC:

I received the following response from Laura Smith, whom I believe is currently Special Counsel for the Enforcement Bureau of the FCC.

Laura Smith’s initial response.

I tried telephoning her, but as I’m on Mountain time it was already 4:20 PM Eastern when I called and reached her voicemail and left a message. I followed up with an email to her after leaving a voicemail:

In response I received the following email:

Laura Smith’s response

So there you have it, while it may be illegal to import, sell, market or advertise such a device (i.e. a Baofeng that is “free banded”) discussed in the Public Notice, it is not illegal for an end user to purchase or possess such a device, and someone who does possess such a device would not be operating it illegally if they are a licensed amateur radio operator and operating on licensed amateur bands assuming the device does not violate some other part 97 rule (For example there are claims that it does emit spurious emissions, which is a completely different issue, but if true, would make it illegal to operate a Baofeng on ham bands, albeit for a completely different reason.)