North Carolina online retailer forced to remove FM amplifiers from its web site.
On September 23, 2016, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) ordered a seller of RF power amplifiers to cease marketing unauthorized models. The FCC issued a citation against SMCS Inc.
The BW Broadcast PA 600 FM amplifier is one model cited for being sold as a stand-alone product.
The amplifiers in question are manufactured by UK-Based BW Broadcast, and cover the company's PA series of FM power amplifiers. These amplifiers are sold as components of FM transmitters, which are FCC certified for sale in the U.S. The issue, according to the citation, is that although the FM transmitters containing the amplifiers are FCC certified, the power amplifiers don't have such certification on their own and are not authorized for sale. The citation notes:
Section 2.815(b) of the Rules states that "No person shall manufacture, sell or lease, offer for sale or lease (including advertising for sale or lease) or import, ship or distribute for the purpose of selling or leasing or offering for sale or lease, any external radio frequency power amplifier capable of operation on any frequency or frequencies below 144 MHz unless the amplifier has received a grant of certification...."
Contrary to BW Broadcast's belief, an amplifier that is sold as part of a certified FM transmitter may not be marketed as a standalone product without first obtaining a separate certification. Additionally, Section 73.1660(a)(2) of the Rules states that an LPFM transmitter shall be certified for compliance with the requirements of the Rules. BW Broadcast’s contention that the transmitters marketed by SCMS are essentially the same as its already certified transmitters does not exempt those models from the certification requirement. Accordingly, based upon the information before us, we find that SCMS marketed the aforementioned BW Broadcast external RF power amplifiers and LPFM transmitters without Commission authority.
What's so special about 144 MHz? It's the low end of the 2-meter amateur radio band. Frequencies just below 144 MHz are assigned to fixed mobile communications (138 MHz - 144 MHz). Just below that, radio frequencies are assigned to space (satellite-to-Earth), then to aeronautical communications. Unauthorized amplifiers may not have been tested at these frequencies.
This isn't the first time that the FCC has cited such violations. For example, ARRL reported in 2014 that a New Jersey business known as Redman CB Stop was cited for similar violations.