If the FCC Can Do It For CB...
I've been doing some research prior to purchasing a 10 meter amateur radio transceiver for my car. As a radio amateur, it is perfectly legal to obtain a radio originally intended for CB use, and modify it (usually by moving a jumper or cutting a wire) for use on the amateur band. That's by far the cheapest way to go.
It appears, however, that the manufacturers can no longer obtain certification for a CB radio unless it is totally locked to CB frequencies. No more (easy) internal modifications. And that is being strictly enforced, to the point that you have to get a non certified radio offshore if you want to do that.
Which brings me to my point. If the FCC can apply this level of regulation for CB, why can't they do this for the FM broadcast band? How can Part 15 transmitters that have multiple power levels get certification (because they are in the FCC database)? Some of these certified transmitters can also be easily modified (from the front panel) for out of band use.
Surely preventing abuse in the broadcast bands is of higher priority than CB, which is already a mess. And amateur radio operators do a good job of patrolling the amateur frequencies.
We've discussed here in the past that it's OK to use a bona fide Part 15 certified transmitter. The FCC has approved it, after all, regardless of what any vigilante says. However, the FCC does need to get rid of the bad actors in the labs that allow some of these very questionable devices to be certified.
The reason is the lab that is doing the questionable certifications is in China and the FCC just authorizes labs in other countries to do the tests and certifications and the lab then gives out the approval and labels and all the info to the FCC that they require to have posted on there FCC ID look up page. But the labs in the US are not much better as a few transmitters are certified questionably namely the Hamilton Rangmaster, Wholehouse 3, and the Talking House with range extender.
The lab in China for all we know is friends with the transmitter manufacturers there. Or the company could have submitted something different to the lab than the actual product. The FCC stopped checking the final product(saw this in a video) and leaves it up to the lab.
Canada has it right as my trip to the lab here just west of Toronto showed me how strict it has become to certify something here. The owner told me that even the Decade MS-100 would not get a certification today as is without changes. The Hamilton Rangemaster wouldn't either or would the Wholehouse 3. Nor would the Talking House with extender.
The FCC has some relaxed rules that can allow USA certification but not here. For example a transmitter that has an adjustment for power adjust is OK in the USA as long as it can be tuned to the correct legal power(AM) or field strength(FM) but in Canada today a certification can't be granted with any way of changing RF output(FM) or input(AM). This may be how the Rangemaster got certified.
All out of band harmonics here(Canada) have to be below 20% of the selected frequency and they have equipment costing 1000s$ measuring the whole spectrum to the 12th harmonic as I saw.
Also, a transmitter can have certifications in both countries and have both certifications on the label but in Canada that has changed.
Take the Decade MS-100. It has 3 certifications on the label....BETS-1, RSS-210(Canada), FCC part 15. And a fourth RSS-123(Canada) but that doesn't matter for this example. But if the Decade was being certified now in 2024 it would not pass now as it is rightly or wrongly. It couldn't have both BETS and part 15 certifications on the product. 2 versions would need to be made, one for each country. No way of adjusting power is allowed even if not in the instructions. Why, because someone in Canada could sell one aftermarket to someone in the USA. The Hamilton Rangemaster would not be certified here(Canada) as is now as the user can, as in the instructions, adjust it so it operates above 100mW(into final).
Here's why also it costs so much for certification. The price is set by the lab. They make money only by testing products for certification. They have to have 10s of thousands $$$ of gear for testing and the cost of operation bills etc. Also the cost of the special test rooms and everything has to as specified by ISED and FCC. Very expensive outlay for a lab just for this purpose. You pay for time and it's like 1000$ per hour! And you have to prepay.
All very valid points, Mark, but my point is that the FCC has cracked down on CB radio certifications. So why not Part 15? Maybe because there are still many more CB radios sold than Part 15 transmitters. No matter the why, however, they obviously have the will to go after CB.
So why not Part 15? Maybe because, other than the multi-watt pirates that cover miles, generate interference and take advertising dollars away from the licensed broadcasters, the little guys really aren't such a huge issue. To me, the pirate act is mostly politics, attempting to show the licensed broadcasters that the FCC actually does something for them.
If the FCC had the will, they always had the people, equipment and technology to go after the real pirates. The fact that some have operated for years speaks volumes.
There is no reason why they can't clamp down on part 15 certifications also. Why CB?, your guess is as good as mine.
Just the same as you, many more CB users and complaints from other users.