FCC Back pedals — All transceivers capable of transmitting on frequencies that require certification must be certified and can not be used on Amateur radio

3 min readSep 28, 2018


Update 10/3/2018: Thanks to everyone who read the article, listened to the phone call in it and shared and made noise. The ARRL is now in talks with the FCC! http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-fcc-discussing-issue-of-uncertified-imported-vhf-uhf-transceivers

After I published yesterday’s correspondence with the FCC, Laura Smith reached out and stated that she misinterpreted what I wrote in my email. She wrote:

Lucky: I may have misunderstood your question and for that, I apologize. The bottom line here is that if the radios are compliant with our rules (have been certified in the non-amateur bands) an amateur can continue to use them in the amateur bands. Of course, if the amateur operates them outside of their licensed bands, they would be in violation of the Commission’s rules. If the radios are not compliant with our rules (have not been certified in the non-amateur bands), they are not to be used.

I do apologize, I have been inundated with emails and calls and may have misread your original email.

Laura Smith

I responded:

>If the radios are not compliant with our >rules (have not been certified in the >non-amateur bands), they are not to be >used.

Here’s where the confusion is, obviously they can’t be used in the non-amateur bands. What about in the Amateur bands though? And if they can’t be used in the Amateur bands by an amateur operator simply because they’re not certified in the non-amateur bands please cite what rule or statute says this.

As you know hams homebrew their own radios that can operate on any number of frequencies in and outside the ham bands that have never been certificated while only operating such a device on the ham bands.

She responded:

If the radio is non-compliant in non-amateur bands (i.e., not certified) — then it cannot be used at all, even in amateur bands. As for the relevant rules, Section 302(a) of the Act specifically states that the Commission’s regulations regarding certification requirements are applicable to the “manufacture, import, sale, offer for sale, or shipment of such devices . . .and to the *use* of such devices” (emphasis added by me). Additionally, Section 97.101 of the rules states that the amateur is responsible for the proper operation of the station in accordance with all of the Commission’s rules, which would also include those governing certification requirements for radios capable of operating in other bands.

The FCC is now taking the position that if the device is simply capable of transmitting outside of ham radio frequencies and on to frequencies that require certification, then the radio must be certified. I pointed out that many hams use VHF/UHF equipment that was once part 95 certified to get on the air, such as GMRS repeaters, CB radios modified for use on 10 meters, etc. all of which specifically and pursuant to the rules lose such certification once they are modified to be used on frequencies outside of part 95 (See § 95.337) and while this seemed to be a catch-22 by the FCC, she stated “I can only tell you what the rules say.” Evidently, the FCC’s stance is that such devices are illegal for use.

Below is an 8 minute phone call I had discussing the matter with Laura

So the FCC’s position is any radio capable of being used outside of amateur radio, if not certificated, can not be used on amateur radio and since Part 95 radios lose their certification once modified for ham use, that apparently would be a violation to use prior Part 95 devices on ham as well.