FCC Cites Baofeng Importer for Illegally Marketing Unauthorized RF Devices

The FCC has issued a Citation and Order (Citation) to Amcrest Industries, LLC(formerly Foscam Digital Technologies, LLC), an importer and marketer of popular and inexpensive Baofeng hand-held transceivers, alleging that the company violated FCC rules and the Communications Act by illegally marketing unauthorized RF devices. The FCC asserts that Amcrest marketed Baofeng model UV-5R-series FM hand-held radios capable of transmitting on “restricted frequencies.” The Baofeng models UV-5R and UV-5R V2+ were granted an FCC equipment authorization in 2012 to operate under Part 90 Private Land Mobile Radio Service (Land Mobile) rules.

“Under § 2.803 of the Commission’s rules, an entity may not market a device that is capable of operating outside the scope of its equipment authorization,” the FCC Citation said. “RF devices that have been authorized under Part 90 rules, such as the model as issue, must operate within the technical parameters established in those rules.” The FCC also maintained that the UV-5R 2+ is capable of operating at 1 W or 4 W, while the Part 90 Equipment Authorization limits the power output to 1.78 W.

Amcrest conceded that the units were capable of operating on restricted frequencies but told the FCC that, per discussions with the manufacturer, were “only capable of operating at 1 W, the FCC said. The company instructed the manufacturer to fix the problem and later confirmed with the manufacturer that all Amcrest inventory on order and in the future would operate only on 145 – 155 MHz and 400 – 520 MHz.

While the Citation does not mention Amateur Radio, the UV-5R series radios can be programmed in a channelized configuration to function on 2-meters and 70-centimeters. According to the Citation, Amcrest had added a warning in its user manuals and marketing and sales materials implying that the UV-5R V2+ could operate on unauthorized and restricted frequencies, including Part 87 Aviation Services frequencies, Part 80 Maritime Services frequencies, and frequencies reserved for federal government use. The FCC said Part 90 radios that permit the operator to use external controls to program and transmit on frequencies other than those programmed by the manufacturer are “generally prohibited.”

Amcrest told the FCC that it had ceased marketing four models in the Baofeng UV-5R series “a few years ago,” but it did not remove them from its website until last February. Numerous online retailers continue selling UV-5R series radios for less than $25, with some ads indicating that these are “ham” equipment.

Amcrest Industries, LLC, which owns and operates Baofengradio US, is an import, distribution, and marketing company based in Houston, Texas. It also sells hand-held transceivers under its own label.

“While we recognize Amcrest’s efforts to date to achieve compliance with the Commission’s rules, the company must nonetheless ensure the version of the UV-5R V2+ it is marketing operates only on frequencies specified in its Equipment Authorization,” the FCC said in its Citation. The FCC directed Amcrest “to take immediate steps to come into compliance with the Commission’s equipment authorization rules and cease marketing unauthorized RF devices in the United States.” Amcrest could face fines of nearly $20,000 per day if it fails to comply.