Family Radio Service
History: Was developed as a two-way, short-distance voice and data communication service for families and group activities. In 2017 the FCC published new FRS rules, so that any new radio can only be type certified for a single radio service. Old FRS/GMRS radios that follow the new FRS rules (which are most of them) are grandfathered in and can be used as FRS radios.
Availability: Common. These handheld radios can be purchased at many different stores (i.e. Walmart, Bass Pro, Amazon, etc).
Marketing: Don’t believe the “ranges” mentioned on the packaging! The range listed measures distance from one mountain-top to another on a clear day! Actual ranges
Also understand that that “privacy codes” on these FRS radios are not private! Enabling them only limits what you hear, not what others hear. Some marketing multiplies the number of privacy codes times 22 channels to come up with an exaggerated number of “channels”.
License Needed: None
Use: Personal or Business
Range: Will vary by obstructions like buildings, trees, or hills. Typically less than a half-mile on channels 8-14, and 1-2 miles on channels 1-7 and 15-22.
Equipment needed: Any Make or Model of FRS radio that is certified by the FCC under Part 95. You can check a radio’s certification by looking in the FCC online database.
We recommend you look for ones that can be powered by Enloop NiMH AA batteries and can be recharged by USB. That way in the field you have multiple ways of powering these radios.
Output: 0.5 or 2 Watts (ERP)
Modulation: Narrowband Frequency Modulation (FMN)
Channels: 22 shared channels each with a bandwidth of 12.5 kHz
Emergency Channel: No official channel, but consider using channels 1 and 3
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