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FCC wants to fine the Radio Shop!

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RadioGuy7268

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Here's one I've never run across before. I've got a customer who started buying radios from us about 7 years ago. They had some cheap job site radios, and wanted to get some new radios that would allow them to scan, as they already used some different user groups. Along the way, they probably added close to 40 radios on to their fleet as the years went on. We considered them to be a good customer.

Now, here's the kicker. Nobody ever checked their license. The customer had existing radios, and we kept selling and programming to their existing channel setup.

Come to find out the customer's license expired 5 years ago, and one of the frequencies they were using was never licensed.

A field Agent from the FCC was snooping around ( supposedly on an anonymous tip), and checked the customer's operation. Customer finds out they're operating illegally and calls us. We tell them they need to stop operation, get licensed for those frequencies (if they still can) and meanwhile I can either rent them some radios or re-program their existing radios (for a fee) to a private carrier MO6 frequency I'm licensed for in their area as a temporary fix. Customer gets upset that they're in a bind, and doesn't really have the budget to spend any money.

The customer has some aspects of their operation that involve the safety and security of school children, so they tell the FCC that it's vital they continue operations under 90.417 (a) : Any station licensed under this part may communicate with any other station without restriction as to type, service, or licensee when the communications involved relate directly to the imminent safety-of-life or property.

So, the FCC has apparently allowed the customer to continue operations on an unlicensed channel. It's been over a month since this situation came to my attention. However, I just got a Notice Of Violation in the mail today which tells me that I'm in Violation of 90.427(b) for programming a transmitter for which the licensee is not authorized. I've got 20 days to respond, and I'm assuming I'll receive some type of fine, based upon how good my response sounds & the mood of the FCC that day.

Has anyone else run up against this? How the heck can an unlicensed operation continue? While the FCC turns around and tries to fine us for programming ? The FCC seems to be painting us as the bad guy. I always thought it was the licensee's responsibility to keep & maintain their license. I guess the easiest & most profitable way to police the airwaves is to fine other people for not enforcing your rules - especially when you don't enforce them either !

/rant
 

n0nhp

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When I worked for a radio shop (in another life) being the radio geek I was, I found the FCC site and did some searches on my customer's freqs. Turned out a couple of tow-truck companies and a security company were expired or never had licenses. I informed the boss of this and he had an interesting response. Rather than even contacting the companies, he just filled out the paperwork as the agent of the companies got the licenses through then billed the customers.
The security company threw a fit and paid the bill after we had three or four handhelds sitting on the "to be repaired shelf".
I think the tow operators just wrote a check, didn't even see what was going on.

I think you might have a leg to stand on but will be hip deep in bureaucracy for a good while. Make sure all your test equipment calibrations are up-to-date!

Bruce
 

gmclam

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Fcc

Are radio shops, or the techs who are working for them, licensed? Is there a requirement as part of your license that either prohibits you from programming radios for unlicensed users or requires that you check to see if they are licensed?

Things have totally changed since I was up on all this. It used to be you had to have a (then called) First Class FCC license to operate a broadcast facility - now just about anyone can do it as they consider it to be under the licensee's responsibility.

I just got a Notice Of Violation in the mail today which tells me that I'm in Violation of 90.427(b) for programming a transmitter for which the licensee is not authorized
I haven't read this section, but if it is as explained, it looks like you need to check license validity in the future. However, I agree that your customer should not be allowed to continue to operate unlicensed.
 

FFPM571

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Well I would contact an attorney and have them look into this. Asking for advise on a scanner message board is only going to give you mixed and wrong information. When it comes to legal matters with the FCC and possibly jepordizing your business and further ramifications leave it to the people who know what course to follow.
 

rescuecomm

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If that was true, department stores selling GMRS/FRS radios to "unlicensed" individuals would really be in a world of hurt. How many millions????

Bob
 

DPD1

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They have a habit of basically coming after whoever the easiest person to come after is. Unfortunately, this time that is you. I don't know how involved you are with the FCC in the first place, but if you need to be on their good side... that kind of puts the ball in their court. If it doesn't matter... Then issuing a fine and actually collecting a fine are two totally different things. If somebody they fined willingly paid them right off the bat on the first notice, they'd probably be as shocked as anybody.
 

jackj

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You sold the radios, you have a moral responsibility to ensure that the system the radios are used in is a legal system and the customer has a license for every Tx frequency you program into his radios. Once upon a time, in a previous lifetime, I was a 2-way radio tech. We had to have a 2nd class FCC Radio Telephone license to repair or adjust a transmitter. The FCC said it was our responsibility as technicians to ensure that the customer was legal in all respects. If he wasn't, we weren't supposed to service his system.

Today, I don't know but it sounds like that hasn't changed.
 

Tech792

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This same thing happened in the NY area a few years ago. A radio shop received a NOV from the FCC for programming radios for a car service on frequencies they weren't licensed on. Don't know what the final outcome was.
 

iMONITOR

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Last time I checked neither the seller or the buyer had to even discuss the existence of a license, let alone show any proof.

In the last forty years I have purchased numerous military surplus transceivers, ham radio transceivers, and commercial business band transceivers. I used them for receivers only. No one ever asked for any type of radio license because one is not needed to purchase them.

The fact that your customer is using them to transmit, and let their license expire is not your responsibility, and I would simply tell them that.
 

RadioGuy7268

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Are radio shops, or the techs who are working for them, licensed? Is there a requirement as part of your license that either prohibits you from programming radios for unlicensed users or requires that you check to see if they are licensed?

Things have totally changed since I was up on all this. It used to be you had to have a (then called) First Class FCC license to operate a broadcast facility - now just about anyone can do it as they consider it to be under the licensee's responsibility.

I haven't read this section, but if it is as explained, it looks like you need to check license validity in the future. However, I agree that your customer should not be allowed to continue to operate unlicensed.
That's my point. Since deregulation took place in the 1980's.... there is no requirement that a shop, or the technicians working for a shop, be licensed with the FCC. The FCC doesn't pay me an annual retainer to check for licensing, and they certainly aren't out there making all those GMRS/FRS blister pack sellers check people's licensing before selling them a box o' radios.

jackj said:
You sold the radios, you have a moral responsibility to ensure that the system the radios are used in is a legal system and the customer has a license for every Tx frequency you program into his radios. Once upon a time, in a previous lifetime, I was a 2-way radio tech. We had to have a 2nd class FCC Radio Telephone license to repair or adjust a transmitter. The FCC said it was our responsibility as technicians to ensure that the customer was legal in all respects. If he wasn't, we weren't supposed to service his system.

Today, I don't know but it sounds like that hasn't changed.
That certainly has changed. It used to be that the FCC Station License required periodic P&M checks, and the station had to be certified by a licensed technician that the equipment was operating within spec's, and that the customer was properly licensed. Back in the day, we had hundreds, if not thousands of customers paying us for annual check-ups & maintenance. Today's customer buys a new box when the old box dies.

Where is the moral responsibility on the part of the FCC to shut down people who are operating without a license? Anyone in the industry knows there are thousands of units sold every week that don't have a license associated with their operation. If I'm supposed to be the one policing the airwaves, I seem to have misplaced my badge. I like to do my part as a good citizen, and I like to make sure that every radio which leaves my repair facility is operating on frequency & within spec's. My auto mechanic never asks to see my driver's license before he does an oil change or tune-up.

n0nhp said:
I informed the boss of this and he had an interesting response. Rather than even contacting the companies, he just filled out the paperwork as the agent of the companies got the licenses through then billed the customers.
That is certainly an interesting take on it. I've stumbled across situations where licenses lapsed, the Legal name of the operation was changed, or the location changed. We would notify the customer & offer to assist them with licensing. I never took the angle of putting out my money on a license or modification & then hoped the customer re-imbursed me. Back in the day, an FCC license was $35. Currently a mobile only simplex license is $260 + coordination costs.

Thanks for the feedback people. I don't really have the time or the desire to tilt at windmills. It just helps to vent a little to people who understand the industry.
 
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Comes down to the fact that the FCC has been overstepping the SOLE REASON THEY WERE CREATED... It was not to play big brother on EVERYTHING we do , it was to just make sure 2 radio frequencies dont overlap eachother in a geographical region. Thats the only reason they were created... They forget this , and this is very typical of this government that wants to run our everyday lives the way THEY see fit... Any dollar they can squeeze out of a small business they will take. Sorry down off of soap box.. Good luck
 

APTN

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License

You sold the radios, you have a moral responsibility to ensure that the system the radios are used in is a legal system and the customer has a license for every Tx frequency you program into his radios.
That's what I would think. I would think license upkeep would be your client's responsibility, unless you have some kind og contractual agreement stating that you would handle it. Anyways, you might want to seek an attorney.
 

radioman2001

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As absurd as seems to me, you have to check the customers license EVERYTIME you work on them. To ensure you are not providing equipment to illegally transmit on frequencies not licensed to the customer. Though it is typical for the government to make the customer or vendor responsible to the government, this way they don't have to expend any resources to administer frequencies and licenses. In you response you can tell the FCC that any programming that took place did before the license expired. Hopefully they wont ask you to produce documents to that effect, if not, you may be screwed. As the FCC licensed technician you are supposed to know better, if you have any license. If no FCC licensed technician on site, they still can get you for illegally providing a transmitter to an unlicensed customer. I have first hand knowledge of a fellow technician, when I worked for Motorola that received a fine for replacing an antenna whip on a vehicle, that had an expired license. Could be they had complaints, maybe not, or could be just an Inspector justifying his job.
 

RadioGuy7268

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As the FCC licensed technician you are supposed to know better, if you have any license. If no FCC licensed technician on site, they still can get you for illegally providing a transmitter to an unlicensed customer.
I'm not licensed by the FCC, but I'm buying radios from Motorola that already have frequencies pre-programmed into them. Theoretically, I would not even have to touch the radio programming in order to deliver radios to an un-licensed entity. Does the FCC intend to send Motorola (or Kenwood) a fine?

If programming radios to a frequency that a customer asks me to is a crime, why isn't the FCC licensing shops and prohibiting anyone but FCC Licensed & approved shops from selling/programming radios?

Again, I never got a badge, I haven't been deputized by the FCC.
 

cfr301

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I'm not licensed by the FCC, but I'm buying radios from Motorola that already have frequencies pre-programmed into them. Theoretically, I would not even have to touch the radio programming in order to deliver radios to an un-licensed entity. Does the FCC intend to send Motorola (or Kenwood) a fine?

If programming radios to a frequency that a customer asks me to is a crime, why isn't the FCC licensing shops and prohibiting anyone but FCC Licensed & approved shops from selling/programming radios?

Again, I never got a badge, I haven't been deputized by the FCC.
That IMHO might be yor entire defense, until you either require a License to program, or Pay me to do YOUR job don't try to fine me for your failures! Just a Thought

Rick
 
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N_Jay

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Rule #1, when involved in a legal matter speak to a lawyer about it.
Rule #1, when involved in a legal matter don't speak to others about it.
 

radioman2001

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The fact that you are not FCC licensed repair facility doesn't remove your liability. Yes the FCC can go after Motorola or Kenwood, if you provide documentation to show that THEY programmed the frequencies into the radio, and you were just the delivery boy. But I suspect that will just make your purchases in the future more problematic. Your customer may have gotten a hardship wavier for now, but he dam well better get a license real quick, or he too will be fined.
Ever since the FCC basically deregulated the commercial radio business, and no FCC license has been required for repairs and such, this type of problem has existed. Before you program anything other than a scanner, you better make sure the customer has a license. Using the attitude of I'm not responsible for FCC enforcement of licensing is the fasted way to put you out of business or in jail.
I had a similar event happen to me 25 years ago where the customer tried to put the blame on me for installing radios in his school busses with a tow frequency in it. I informed the FCC that the radios were disabled when I finished the install, and would stay that way until the frequency was changed. The customer rehooked them up, making him the one who made them illegal. It still was a pain to deal with and fortunately I prevailed. I showed the FCC the signed invoice with that very info on it. He was fined $2,000.00 and I never did any work for them again, and let all the other shops in the area aware of the problem.
 
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