20181007 - Unrestricted Radios and the Amateur Service

Post date: Oct 6, 2018 2:48:06 AM

Last week we told you about the Federal Communications Commission in the United States who appear to be in the process of banning all uncertified radios capable of transmitting outside amateur bands for all users including radio amateurs.

The ARRL states that:

"The Advisory broadly prohibits the 'use' of such radios, but our view is that there is no such prohibition relative to licensed Amateur Radio use - entirely within amateur allocations - of a radio that may be capable of operation in non-amateur spectrum, as long as it is not actually used to transmit in non-amateur spectrum."

The ARRL is in ongoing discussion with the FCC.

On 28 September, the Radio Spectrum Management, that is, the regulator in New Zealand issued a prohibition notice that at first glance says the same thing as the notice issued by the FCC. However, on closer inspection it's worded in such a way that radio amateurs are specifically not affected by this notice.

The New Zealand prohibition notice states that:

(1) Unrestricted two way radio devices are interfering equipment.

(2) Unrestricted two way radio devices are declared to be prohibited equipment.

(3) The importation, sale, offers for sale, distribution or manufacture of unrestricted two way radio devices is prohibited other than by permitted persons.

(4) The use or installation of unrestricted two way radio devices is prohibited other than by a person holding a General Amateur Radio Operator's Certificate of Competency, and operating within the terms and conditions of the amateur radio licence.

There is further clarifying language about land mobile and fixed services, but in essence unrestricted radios are permitted for use by radio amateurs in New Zealand.

The New Zealand prohibition notice comes into effect on 18 October 2018 and there are provisions for getting an endorsement on your amateur license to import and sell unrestricted two way radio devices.

So while both the FCC and RSM are attempting to solve the same problem, they're going about it in completely different ways. It will be interesting to see which route the ACMA takes on this when and if they proceed down this path.

Suffice to say that this is an ongoing discussion that we'll cover as it unfolds. You can find links to the FCC, ARRL and RSM documents on the vk6.net website.