Recently, on a gundog forum, it seems that someone has taken issue with some of the information I had posted here about the Garmin Astro in Canada. In a somewhat snarky, not-very-Canadian reply, the poster reports that he/she received information directly from Garmin International that not only is the Astro legal in Canada (I've always maintained that it is. The information I gathered only indicated that it was not approved for USE) but that there is even a Canadian company selling and shipping the unit in the Great White North! If true, that would be fantastic!!!
However, it is still not clear that all the issues I outlined in my blog have been resolved. A major on-line seller of GPS and related products in Canada, GPS central, still states on their website that:
GPS Central does not carry the Garmin Astro product. It is not available for purchase in Canada where it is illegal to sell or use it. Its unapproved frequency interferes with channels not approved for civilian use. Fines for individuals are $25,000 with possible additional confiscation of property including automobiles. Electronics retailers face penalties of $50,000 or more. See Industry Canada.
It should be noted that the line that says the astro interferes with channels not approved for civilian use is not accurate. The frequencies used by the Astro can be used by civilians if they purchase the appropriate license which is freely available to private citizens. However, GPS Central's statement is similar to what I have heard from other distributors: that they have been told they cannot sell the units in Canada. US vendors have also told me the same thing. In fact, my interest in this whole thing came about after I tried to order an Astro a few months ago from Gundog Supply in the US and they emailed to say that they could not ship it to Canada.
Another large distributor of GSP devices has stores in the US and in Canada . It is called GPS City. Their American dot com site says: Availability: Ships August 31st/09. It then goes on to say the following: Canadian Customers! Save on shipping fees, customs, duty, and PST! Buy this item from Canada's original on-line GPS store, gpscity located in Calgary, Alberta. But when you click on the link to the Canadian dot ca site it says: This item is not available for purchase.
Even Garmin's own website states that Due to varying international regulations, this version of the Astro is approved for use only in the United States.
GPS central also provides a link to the department in charge of these things, Industry Canada. Their website states that "In general, Canadians expect to have access to the same range of electronic and wireless products and services that are available elsewhere in North America. However, making these frequencies available for these wireless consumer products often poses several challenges. One of the primary challenges is that the desired spectrum is often already in use. This means that incumbent licensees need a reasonable notification period to move to other frequencies to avoid interference to their radio services".
Now, there may very well have been some movement on the issue since I wrote my last post about the Astro. Considering that there is apparently a Canadian company selling them over the net and that a representative from Garmin has supposedly stated in an email that the unit is good to go up here, the Gov. may have recently granted approval for the Astro. As I stated in my blog, they had every intention of changing the rules governing the MURS frequencies, but not for five years:
The Department establishes the following time frame to permit MURS devices to operate in these five channels in the 150 MHz band. 1. a five-year transition period is established from the publication date of this spectrum policy, (June 1, 2009) after which the distribution and sale of MURS devices will be permitted;
So is the Astro really good to go up here? Honestly, I don't know. I certainly hope so and I will probably put an order through to the Canadian company selling them first thing in the morning. But I think I will also give Industry Canada and Garmin a call just to find out what their take on it really is...because we all know that "... it would really be appreciated that if you don't know what your (sic) talking about that you said nothing",
Isn't that right Mr. Manners?
UPDATE: See my this post regarding even more up-to-date information I've gleaned from what seems to be an excellent Canadian source.