The title of this article may certainly sound like a stupid question to you. I hope it gets your attention because the situation itself is indeed a stupid one and unfortunately, the question therefore seems
appropriate. There is a growing problem of piracy of the 10m band by illegal operators. It is now becoming epidemic. As most of you know, this problem is not new :
W2WDX has already made a thorough investigation of this matter right here on QRZ. He discovered that numerous Radio Shacks in the NYC and Long Island areas had been selling 10m radios while showing no concern of whether or not the user would be licensed.
We have also made an investigation and I regret to report that W2WDX is not only completely correct in his findings, but his conclusions apply thruout the entire eastern U.S.
This subject of 10m piracy is not new. Our investigation covers all of the states in the Eastern time zone. Because of the Merchant Marine i travel a great deal between ship assignments. One trip was from Buffalo, NY to Maine and the other went from Maine to Texas, then back to Buffalo by way of Missouri and Illinois. During these two trips i made it a point to shop at three Truck Stop Companies: (A) Pilot, (B) Flying J, and (C) Petro. The results were that ALL of those truck stops sold 10m radios except one Petro truck stop in Hammond, LA. The Petro Truck Stops would typically sell one or two different versions of 10m radios. The Flying J would sell two versions, and the Pilot sold 3 versions at the beginning of this survey, but toward the end of the survey, each Pilot Truck stop sold FOUR different versions of Galaxy 10m radios!! During this survey we would ask a standard series of naive questions about these radios and "what they were good for" and whether "they might make you get a license". These truck stops had a tendency to employ two separate tactics to answer the questions: (A) the manager would be called and (B) an apppeal would be made to another customer to "help out" with answering the question. One manager at a Pilot said that "a state license might be required". Another replied that "CB has not required a license for over 15 years". Other answers consisted of replies to the effects that "you don't need a license", "I don't know whether you do or not", and "you have to get it modified to use on CB so as it will then be a CB". Another manager stated "once we sell it we don't care what you do with it." Several times we heard some of the truck stop customers tell us that "these were really good radios because 10m was not as crowded as "the other CB bands". One well known amateur radio dealer located in the midwest said that they were actually required to sell radios to non-hams because "we could be sued for discrimination if we refused". Evidently he was referring to the case made in 1978 by Richard B. Cooper vs. Burbank Electronics!! Once we exhausted the source of available information, we would proceed along our dumb little way to the next truck stop.
Considerable time and effort was invested in this investigation. The trips required twice as long to complete as one would expect.
During this time it was discovered that there is indeed no law against the practice of selling "those 10m CBs" to the general public.
Now the questions are: What can we do now? Should there be a new law prohibiting such indiscriminate sales of what has now become known as "those 10m CBs" to the general public? Would greater regulation of the sale of amateur radio equipment be worth a loss of business on the part of those companies who could not care less about OUR VERY OWN bands? Do you think that the piracy of 10m is even a problem? Any and all answers to these questions will be greatly appreciated. Thank you and --73 to all de N4INU--
cb'ers on 10 now up on the phone portion anyways..kk7k
We don't need a new law. It's already illegal.
If you have the proof you say, give it to
Hollingsworth. They will go after commercial firms.
Go to exportradios.com .Pick up anything you want. "Express radio" would love to have you think that their operation is strictly legal, but they sell non FCC type accepted radios and amplifiers to anyone with the money. None of these radio sources are difficult to find, ie truck stops et al, but there is no enforcement of existing regulations. Anyone can buy a ham rig, but non type accepted commercially built radios I don't believe can be legally sold. The joke is, How do you tell if a truckdriver is using illegally modified radio equipment? Easy.....he's got an antenna! Oh, and Radio shack? Their slogan should be "You've got questions? We don't know anything!".
all I have to say that problem is not only in US. It is also happening in Puerto Rico!! And Very badly!!!
Mr. Jarvis et al,
Buying or possessing amateur equipment is not regulated by Part 97, only the operation there-of. It is completely legal for ANYONE to buy or sell ham gear (excepting of course the rules regarding type acceptance of commecially manufactured equipment). While it may be dishonest and a misrepresentation for a retailer to knowingly tell a customer that they do not need a licence (and maybe a violation of local or state retailing regulations) it is not a violation of Part 97.
What Mr. Errico should have done was some on the spot education when he determined that incorrect information was being given. That is why our service is called "self-policing". Tell the customers that they must have a license that includes passing a morse code exam. A little bit of accurate information goes a long way.
In addition, I would recommend that Mr. Errico and any other mobile hams monitor 10M when on the road. If you hear suspected pirate activity, ask for callsigns. If none are given monitor the conversations and listen for information that would tell you whether the individual is mobile or base. If you can identify the actual vehicle, consider not only writing to the Amateur Auxilary or the FCC but also the company that owns the truck. In your letter to the drivers employer, you could indicate that the FCC regularly impounds the equipment of individuals illegally operating, and you don't know if that would include the vehicle with the equipment installed as well or not. No vehicle owner is going to want their 6 figure investment sitting in an impound yard waiting for FCC technicians to tear it appart removing the illegal gear.
You could even mention impounding on the air when you monitor a suspected pirate conversation or in a truck stop when a salesperson is not providing the customer with full information. Regardless of what you choose to do, policing the bands is OUR JOB. Yes, the actual enforcement is done by Federal employees, but it is up to us to lay the groundwork. So when you hear misinformation, correct it. If you hear potential pirate conversations, get the facts that can identify the operators.
In closing, they're our bands to protect, if we don't no one else will. 73 and Happy Holidays to all, Ralph
Asking vendors to check license before selling wont work, because they are not qualified to check the authenticity of a license unless they have a qrz database to verify with. If all you have to do is show a copy of your license to the clerk, the type of person who would knowing transmit on the 1-M band without a license is the same person who would knowingly show the clerk a fake license to buy the radio. There is no way to do it at the salespoint without major regulations, policing and steep fines. Look at the trouble we have just trying to keep cigarettes from minors, and that is a much more serious and bigger problem.
How about addressing the ignorance part, and having radio information concerning ham operation vs cb operation be part of the truckers licensing process, that way every trucker could not claim ignorance when operating illegally. I think this would go a long way because it sounds like from the original post, most non-hams really dont know what they are talking about.
Its kind of like the drug problem, you can go after the dealers all you want, but as long as there is demand, the drugs will find their way to the users. Go after the demand, and the drugs will dry up. Ie, show the illegal users what they are doing is illegal, and why, and they will stop (of course not everyone, but generally people try to do the right thing when they find out what it is.)
I think educating the people buying the rigs might help.
Like telling them "don't go above 27.999".
Most of the drivers don't know that they are breaking the law .
Maybe it is up to us as Hams to enlighten them.
My 2 cents.
73 de Tony K8EEI
Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference
7 3 de Tony K8EEI
No offense, but it is absurd for all of us to try to police this totally out of control situation on 10m when the Rat Shack stores of the world are dumping these radios into everyone's hands. One or two violators can be caught, but not hundreds or possibly thousands! Procedures have to be changed at the nationwide stores and perhaps even with swapmeets, to verify that the customers have (or at least know that they need to have) licences to operate the equipment. I will not speculate whether or not new laws or needed, or just existing ones followed, or what. But I do know that we are rapidly passing the ability for realistic self-policing on this particular issue.
I agree that we need self policing, but I have found that "on the spot education" is ineffective. I've heard of people being threatened with trespass charges when they say "no, that's illegal."
What I do, and what I have fun doing, is start writing information down. Ask for the manager's name, and when he/she is called over write down their name. When they ask why I say that the information is going to the FCC enforcement division, and sometimes I exaggerate the possible forefitures. I know I won't change any behaviors because the FCC takes so little action, but at least for the short term they will say licenses are required.
I believe that this, and actually writing Hollingsworth, is all I can do. We can lay the groundwork, but we need a lot more enforcement action from the FCC to stop truckers from using 10 and 12 meter rigs.
And I guarantee that if the FCC doesn't enforce more we will lose most/all HF bands. Sooner or later truckers will discover that with 20 or 40 meter rigs they can get better long range communications than 10 will reliably provide, then they will invade those bands. Let's hope we can help the FCC prevent this from happening.