Every year around September, a handful of people and 3rd party sites start repeating and spewing the same lies based on their lack of education on the September 2017 ruling on PRS (Personal Radio Service) rule reorganization. The entirety of the rule reorganization can be found here: Personal Radio Service Reform - A Rule by the Federal Communications Commission on 08/29/2017.

The basic claim by the ignorant is that this ruling makes all Baofeng and/or Chinese based models illegal to import/buy/sell/use because they have the capacity to transmit on FRS frequencies. The thing is, this ruling only affects models certified for FRS and GMRS. One of the primary issues for years was FRS companies making the little 0.5W FRS units that could also transmit on GMRS only channels. In higher population areas, this meant kids and idiots messing with licensed GMRS users.

So this new ruling comes down where no unit can be what is essentially a "combo" unit, aka FRS and GMRS. Some key points with this new ruling:

  • They adjusted the frequencies/channels so everything currently accessible by prior/current FRS radios will remain under FRS.
  • They adjusted GMRS frequencies/channels so there are some shared channels with FRS, but new channels that are GMRS only.
  • They adjusted the power allowance for FRS up from 0.5W to a max 2W.
  • Power on the shared FRS/GMRS channels are limited to 2W for FRS units and 5W GMRS units, versus the GMRS only channels allow up to 50W.

So where does the Chinese radio basis come in to play? They base their claim on misinterpretation of individual lines in the ruling. They usually point to the change in wording in this section:
ยง95.591 Sales of FRS combination radios prohibited.
Effective September 30, 2019, no person shall sell or offer for sale hand-held portable radio equipment capable of operating under this subpart (FRS) and under any other licensed or licensed-by-rule radio services in this chapter (devices may be authorized under this subpart with part 15 unlicensed equipment authorizations).

The key they are ignoring is this only affects Part 95 certification and usage via PRS services (FRS, GMRS, and MURS). Baofeng model radios are already illegal to use on FRS and MURS frequencies, and except for the BTECH specific model (the GMRS-v1), they are illegal to use on GMRS as well. The difference is that capability does not mean illegality. They are marketed, intended, and sold as amateur radio units, not as anything else. My Yaesu also has access to frequencies outside of amateur frequencies as almost all units are, that does not make them illegal to import/buy/sell/use.

So anytime you hear about this September ban on Baofeng radios, just laugh at them and move along (or point them to this article).

Take care and 73s!