GMRS Frequencies

GMRS Radio - GMRS license - GMRS repeaters

 

GMRS Frequencies

GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) is a service using radios of low to fairly high power transceivers that are used for hobby, personal, or business use.  

Midland Radio

The General Mobile Radio Service can be confused with FRS Radio (Family Radio Service).  The difference is that GMRS Radio is permitted a higher output to reach further distances, and has more channels (however, within the General Mobile Radio Service frequencies, FRS does share some channels).  FRS on the other hand, is very limited in power output. GMRS walkie-talkies are available with outputs anywhere from 1 watt to around 4 watts, and mobile/base units are permitted by regulation of up to 50 watts output on certain channels. FRS handie-talkies however, are limited to their 14 frequencies (channels) and to 500 mW (half a watt), and are not permitted in mobile or base form.  Some of the FRS channels are also used as GMRS Frequencies.  Also, FRS is restricted by a fixed antenna; you can't add an external antenna (which will greatly increase your range) as you can with the General Mobile Radio Service.  However, there is no license required for FRS use.  It is entirely license free!  That alone can save you $85, the fee for a General Mobile Radio Service license.  For more information on this License from the FCC, go to the GMRS License page.

Here is THE best selling GMRS Radio on Amazon:

            

Although the General Mobile Radio Service is officially available only in the U.S. and Canada, although other countries do have their own variations thereof. PMR446 is a radio service available in many European countries which features 8 fixed channels in the UHF spectrum at 446 MHz, but it restricts users to 500 mW output, so it is closer to FRS than the General Mobile Radio Service.  And the channels are not the same as North America uses for General Mobile Radio Service frequencies, so the two radios are not interchangeable with each other; using a PMR446 radio in North America will land you in a heap of trouble as you will be transmitting on someone's assigned frequencies; same thing would happen if you tried to use a North American General Mobile Radio Service radio in Europe.

The most popular and least expensive type of GMRS 2-way radio is the walkie-talkie, also known as handie-talkie (see below). There are also mobile units available, which offer much more flexibility along with higher power and repeater capability, but the vast majority of radios on the market today are the bubble-pack walkie-talkies. These are available in the absolute widest variety and at the best prices from Amazon.  You can find these in big box department stores as well, but selection will be poor.  Also, the professional GMRS Radios, which have longer range, higher output and more features, will not be found at all in retail stores but are available online at Amazon: Icom, Motorola and others (see right sidebar) offer higher power and have GMRS repeater capabilities.  Most all of these professional UHF radios will have quite a frequency spread however, so it's important to make sure you operate only on the designated GMRS frequencies and when on FRS channels, reduce power output to 500 mW.

midland gxt5000 kit
 

 There are changes coming from the FCC with the General Mobile Radio Service which will probably result in lower power output and the elimation of repeaters, but it is not cast in stone nor will any changes be in the short term.  See History and Future of GMRS for some more information.

FRS channels and GMRS channels are shared between the two services and in fact many GMRS radios will operate on both frequencies; however when using the less expensive walkie-talkies, output power is automatically reduced when on the FRS frequencies.  Click here for the GMRS Frequencies List to see how GMRS and FRS are related.

900 MHz Radios

There are some fairly new radios on the market which use the 900 MHz band and are license free! So far, only two manufacturers, TriSquare (which unfortunately, appears to be discontinued) and Motorola manufacture walkie-talkies on 900 MHz frequencies. TriSquare handies are priced comparable to higher-end GMRS radios and are very reasonably priced, but the Motorolas are priced much higher, as they are marketed as "business" radios with a ton of features found on the best quality radios.

  

 

Amateur Radio, aka HAM Radio

 If you're seeking to expand your radio horizons, aka: bitten by the radio bug, you want to look into HAM radio, officially known as Amateur Radio. I put together a page showing some excellent study guides and top quality radios for beginners all the way to us old-timers!