FCC Enforcement Actions

When teaching ham radio license classes, I often get asked whether the FCC enforces the Part 97 rules and regulations. That is, how likely is it that the FCC would come after me if I violate the rules? This same question surfaces concerning the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS).

This morning, I looked at the FCC Enforcement Actions page, to see what’s there. First off, there are a ton of actions against unlicensed FM broadcast stations, in response to the PIRATE Act pass by Congress in 2020. There are also many actions against people operating RoboCall systems via telephone. If you find yourself bored, go ahead and read through these enforcement actions.

Here are some actions taken by the FCC concerning Amateur Radio and GMRS in the past few years:

In June 2022, the FCC sent a Notice of Violation to David Dean, K0PWO, concerning a continuous carrier signal on 7.033 MHz from a remote station near Fairplay, Colorado. I recall there being a ruckus about this incident in the ham radio community but I did not know it resulted in a Notice of Violation.

In June 2022, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (FCC talk for “we are fining you”) of $34k to Jason Frawley, WA7CQ. The FCC says that Frawley used his ham radio to transmit on frequencies allocated and authorized for government use during the Johnson wildfire near Elk River, Idaho.

In November 2022, the FCC sent a Notice of Violation to David Dean, K0PWO. (This is the same person with the stuck transmitter in June 2022.) The FCC received a complaint from the State of Colorado that someone (later found to be Dean) had an illegally cloned radio transmitting on the State’s digital trunked radio system (DTRS) without authorization.

In June 2023, the FCC issued a Notice of Violation to Martin Anderson, GMRS WQQP653 in Vancouver, WA. This relates to a stuck transmitter, apparently due to a faulty transceiver at a repeater site. It transmitted continuous, unmodulated signals on the frequency of 462.725 MHz.

In August 2023, the FCC issued a Notice of Violation to Jonathan Gutierrez, GMRS license WRTD259 in response to a complaint of intentional interference to a 462.625 MHz repeater in Mt. Holly, Pennsylvania.

In August 2023, the FCC issued a Notice of Violation to Alarm Detection Systems, licensee of radio station WQSK406 in Louisville, Colorado. This is not ham or GMRS-related but involves a business band radio on 460 MHz. Apparently, the company continued to operate legacy “wideband” FM radios after the FCC required business band radio users to switch to “narrowband” radios (12.5 kHz channels). I found this interesting because it is an action related to the use of improper radio gear and emission type.

In May 2024, the FCC issued a Notice of Unlicensed Operation to Skydive Elsinore, LLC, a skydiving company in Lake Elsinore, CA. This company was transmitting in the 70 cm amateur band on 442.725 MHz without a proper license.

From these notices, we can see that the FCC does enforce amateur and GMRS rules, but not as often as we’d like to see. Usually, the situation has to be a big nuisance before it escalates enough for the FCC to take action. If you make a simple mistake once or twice, you are highly unlikely to be cited. If you are a more consistent or flagrant rule breaker, then you might get a visit from the FCC.

Remember that the ARRL has the Volunteer Monitor program, operating under a formal agreement with the FCC,  that can assist with on-the-air violations.

73 Bob K0NR

The post FCC Enforcement Actions appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Bob Witte, KØNR, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Colorado, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

One Response to “FCC Enforcement Actions”

  • Larry Wheeler W9QR:

    Thanks Bob,
    Several years ago a 75 meter group experienced intentional interference by a station that transmitted fan noises. The operator knew that notch filters are ineffective for that type of audio. I called the FCC’s Watch supervisor and asked him to tell me where the signal was originating. He was reluctant to be of help at first. I told him that I just had a meeting with some of the attorneys at the FCC during a Washington business trip and had been assured of the Commission’s assistance. The Watch Supervisor said, “Just a moment.” Within a couple of minutes he gave me the location of the interfering station.

    A mention of that phone call on the air, was all it took.

    73, Larry W9QR

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