Here is a reminder on an upcoming rule change by the FCC: On September 30, 2019, it will become illegal to sell or “offer for sale” (advertise) radios like the popular Baofeng UV-5R that can operate in the FRS radio band (462.5625 – 462.7250 MHz) and any other licensed band in a single device. Manufacturers will have to either quit selling them or block out the FRS bands–like they already do for the current cellular bands. This is the relevant verbiage:
§ 95.591 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).
I strongly recommend stocking up on dual band Baofeng UV-5R handie-talkies before this regulatory change takes place. Presently, if bought in a set of five, the cost per transceiver is only around $23 each, postage paid. By law, these may still be bought by any adult. But a license is needed to operate them outside of the no-license FRS, GMRS, and MURS bands. (That is, in the amateur operators’ bands.)
Note that this upcoming ban WILL NOT be a ban on the possession or use of FRS dual band ham radios. Nor will be it be illegal to gift them to other adults. Hence, any that are legally owned on or before September 30th will effectively become “grandfathered”. Read between the lines folks: The FCC doesn’t want non-licensed individuals to own radios that can transmit in both licensed bands and unlicensed bands. My supposition is that this is because in the long term they don’t want unlicensed folks to have plausible deniability for toting around ham band-capable gear. Ironically, it was a few boot-licking sycophants within the ham community that pushed for this rule change. Often, people jealously guard their own privileges and want to deny privileges to others who are not in their elite clique. This is essentially a Country Club Members mentality.
So, reiterating my advice: Buy a box of five of these, or perhaps two boxes, while they are still readily available and affordable. The FCC rule change won’t go into effect until September 30, 2019. But if you wait until July or August, then it will probably be too late. It is very likely that by then they will be sold out, or their price will escalate. But for now, they can be had for just $23 per transceiver. Within another month or so, they will be history. The countdown clock is ticking. Don’t hesitate on this one.
Also note that there will also be some room for profit from the upcoming ban. It is safe to assume that just in the months of August and September, you may be able to double your money, if you decide to sell off any of your spare “new in package” UV-5R transceivers. But starting September 30th, you will only be able to give them away–not advertise or sell them.
Update: Several readers wrote to mention that there are a few other more capable but still quite affordable Baofeng models that will also become import-banned on September 30th. These include:
- The tri-band model (which also covers the 220 MHz band). This the BaoFeng BF-R3 Tri-Band. It comes with two antennas and a 3800mAh battery. It sells for $29 to $34.
- The more rugged dual-band UV-82. It sells for around $27.
- The UV-82 Long Range. This is the upgraded 8-watt model, with a better antenna. It sells for around $35.
Regardless of the model that you choose, I recommend getting one spare battery (preferably the long 3800mAh capacity one), and at least one spare antenna per transceiver. The latter, because the Baofeng antennas are notoriously fragile.
For Baofeng frequency programming instructions (both from the keypad, and “off-board” with a CHIRP cable and PC), see this web page.
I hope that your readers find this information useful, and that you act on it. Again, the clock is ticking. – JWR