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Why doesn't the FCC allow multi-service radios?


buttholejim

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I have no understanding why the FCC can't, or wont allow multiple type certifications for a single radio. My point here is that I can't see any reason that you can't legally buy a type certified radio that covers both MURS, FRS, and Marine VHF. Is this because the manufactures don't want to bother with this? Or is there something within current FCC rules that I'm missing that prohibits this?

Currently there's four "services" that do not require licensing, Marine VHF (license requirement eliminated in 1996), MURS, FRS, and Citizens Band (11M).

Marine VHF is an interesting one. The limitations are pretty generous. The way I understand the current rules for Marine VHF is that as long as you are using to communicate with another person on (or near?) a navigable body of water, it's within the rules. So technically, if one party is on a kayak in a creek large enough to allow kayaking, and the other is onshore (and at  no specifically defined distance from the water), communication on the Marine VHF band is permitted. Anywhere in the country. The power limitation is 25 watts for Marine VHF.

What burns my bacon is you can buy a radio(s) that does have this capability (but they're not "legal"), so the technology is available, but the FCC wants you to buy 3 radios... Hmmm... maybe I just answered my own question...

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  • buttholejim changed the title to Why doesn't the FCC allow multi-service radios?
17 minutes ago, buttholejim said:

I have no understanding why the FCC can't, or wont allow multiple type certifications for a single radio. My point here is that I can't see any reason that you can't legally buy a type certified radio that covers both MURS, FRS, and Marine VHF.

It’s far easier from an administrative standpoint. Manufactures only have the technical requirements for one service to meet the qualifications for certification rather than four. Some of those requirements are incompatible with the other services. 
If the rules change for one then the radio would lose the certification for all. That’s how it would have to work. Assuming people would just refrain from using that service where the radio can’t meet the requirements is not going to happen. The fiasco with combo FRS/GMRS radios before the 2017 rule changes is a case in point. Almost nobody got the GMRS required license to use at the time GMRS exclusive channels.

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I know better than to engage in this ... anyhow ... Here are THREE perspectives:

 

(1) Having been around this forum for a short while, I feel confident to state two things @Lscott

Statement ONE: Most of us would refuse a limitation on soda size or a soda tax - we know what is good and bad for us and we can make our own decisions!

Statement TWO: Most of us see that many of the traffic lights we encounter daily are reasonable place and reduce risks of traffic accidents - although we like to doubt the programming of many lights.

Bonus Statement: ... we have seen and heard (in real life and here on the forum) how people jump into buying some cheap (and totally cool if paired with the right wrist strap) radio without understanding its workings and limitations.

Consequently, the question seems to be, where do multi-service radios fall?

Are they traffic lights in the hand of people who do not understand them or are they big soda cups in the hand of people who know better but simply make decisions ...

 

(2) Here is where I play devil's (FCC's) advocate @axorlov

Historically, different radios for different services does make technical sense if you are federal dinosaur who remembers the far past but fails to imagine tomorrow's opportunities !!!

 

(3) At the end of the day, I think the explanation is much simpler and (to my knowledge) best summed up by (another) immigrant @marcspaz @OffRoaderX @buttholejim

“There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” ― Ayn Rand

 

 

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11 hours ago, buttholejim said:

Marine VHF is an interesting one. The limitations are pretty generous.

Be careful with Marine VHF.  I was browsing the FCC site and found this, perhaps I was looking in the wrong section:

Using Hand-Held Marine VHF Radios on Land
You must have a special license, called a marine utility station license, in addition to a ship station license, to operate a hand-held marine radio from land -- a ship station license IS NOT sufficient. You may apply for this license by filing electronically in ULS with the FCC. To be eligible for a marine utility station license, you must generally provide some sort of service to ships or have control over a bridge or waterway. Additionally, you must show a need to communicate using hand-held portable equipment from both a ship and from coast locations. Each unit must be capable of operation while being hand-carried by an individual. The station operates under the rules applicable to ship stations when the unit is aboard a ship, and under the rules applicable to private coast stations when the unit is on land.

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48 minutes ago, WRXD372 said:

Consequently, the question seems to be, where do multi-service radios fall?

Are they traffic lights in the hand of people who do not understand them or are they big soda cups in the hand of people who know better but simply make decision

I’d say neither. They’re the ambulance remote that changes the traffic light. Metaphorically speaking. That is to say many would affect others blindly. For example and as pointed out by @back4more70 the misconception in this thread that marine Vhs limitations are generous and the idea that you can just stand next to a creek and talk to kayaks. 
 

 

11 hours ago, Lscott said:

The fiasco with combo FRS/GMRS radios before the 2017 rule changes is a case in point. Almost nobody got the GMRS required license to use at the time GMRS exclusive channels.

@Lscott nails it here. IMHO. 

“Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.” – Edmund Burke. 

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The real reason is an attempt to "stupid proof" the services. They want to force you to deliberately make an effort to transmit on the service you intend to use. If you had a mismash of frequencies from multiple service scanning at once, the chances of you responding to the wrong service with the wrong call sign is very high. If you have 2 different radios, you deliberately grab the GMRS microphone and transmit on the intended frequency. Now, it has happened to even the experienced operators, grabbing the wrong microphone and using the wrong call sign.

Are there good best management practices that can be used to minimize the cross use of services, and tossing out the incorrect call sign? Sure there are, but how many new licensees have enough trouble understanding how to program a single repeater, let alone run zones/scan lists/etc. Now toss in inexperience, and difficulty reading the rules directly from eCFR. It is much easier to say separate radio for each service than to try to write BMPs into the code as hard and fast regulations.

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48 minutes ago, tweiss3 said:

If you have 2 different radios, you deliberately grab the GMRS microphone and transmit on the intended frequency. Now, it has happened to even the experienced operators, grabbing the wrong microphone and using the wrong call sign.

Yes, because these two are very different, and also these two. So grateful that hardware manufactures have helped newbies to not make that mistake.

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3 hours ago, WRXD372 said:

There's no way to rule innocent men

Haha, LOL!

Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Napoleon are watching a parade on Red Square in Moscow in 70-s.
Alexander: If I only had tanks like these I'd conquer all of Europe and also Asia!
Julius: If I only had missiles like these I'd rule the whole planet!
Napoleon: If I only had a propaganda machine like that one, nobody ever would know that I lost at Waterloo!

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OK lets look at the rules and start to tear this apart.

First is HAM and anything else. 

Ham is the ONLY service that allows VFO access to any frequency that the radio is able to access.  This applies to both transmit and receive.  No other transmitting radio in non-government hands has this ability other than SOME Maritime and Avionics radios. 

They either need to be preprogrammed (CB, MURS, GMRS, Marine) Or they need to require programming with in their operating range in some fashion that doesn't give the end user direct access to program the radio without some key, or software (part 90 LMR radios).  So that's reason one.

 

As pointed out, ham radios don't need to be type accepted, but do need to meet certain criteria to be manufactured and sold by vendors.  You can build anything you want for your own use.  But radios from the manufacture have to ship with the ability to transmit outside of the allocated frequencies blocked.  Of course, removing that block is simple enough usually, but it has to be there when it ships.  So that's strike two. 

The third one, is the biggest and it exists in all services EXCEPT ham radio.  No radio can operate outside the service it was designed for.  So a commercial LMR radio can't be used for Maritime communications.  It can of course be used for ham radio since no restriction exists but a radio designed for the ham radio service can't be used for any other service either.  This is both regulated in the design criteria for ham radios that are manufactured and exists in the part 90 rules that a radio. 

 

This again is becoming a dead horse topic.  It gets brought up and rehashed over and over again. 

So here's a better question,,,, why do you care?

Are you gonna get a part 90 LMR license for VHF and want to use your Baofeng to talk on both VHF and UHF GMRS?

Do you figure on running your modified ham radio on your boat?

Or are you just complaining via a question that you don't understand the reasoning for what the regulations are and figured it would sound better if others were to complain about it so you didn't have to?

Simple way to deal with it.  Follow the rules.  You obviously know them, or you wouldn't be asking why they exist to begin with. 

 

 

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On 8/3/2023 at 10:52 PM, buttholejim said:

Is this because the manufactures don't want to bother with this? Or is there something within current FCC rules that I'm missing that prohibits this?

These aren’t the right questions. What is missing is not fully reading the applicable regulations for each service first. What wears on people is not being conversant with the regulations and trying to debate the topic. The knowledgeable people will just quit responding.

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12 hours ago, WRKC935 said:

This again is becoming a dead horse topic.  It gets brought up and rehashed over and over again. 

So here's a better question,,,, why do you care?

[...]

Simple way to deal with it.  Follow the rules.  You obviously know them, or you wouldn't be asking why they exist to begin with. 

 

Yes, yes, and yes !!!

 

"Why do we care?" -- I guess the disconnect is that technology has evolved to the point where all the limitations could be programmed into one device.

We seem to be falling for the notion that: "If it can be done - it should be done !!!"

While I strongly disagree with that notion, I can feel its appeal and its pull towards the "dark side" 😇

 

 

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