GMRS Frequencies

GMRS Radio - GMRS license - GMRS repeaters


GMRS Radio History & FRS Origins

GMRS was started up in the 1960s by the FCC who called it the class A citizens radio service. At this time radios were very expensive for the average consumer and the band was used mostly by businesses and industry. At that time, tube transceivers abounded. The regulations specified that 60 watts input was permitted on these new frequencies, with Frequency Modulation wideband, 15 khz spacing, of 50 khz per channel. Just a few years later, the FCC decided to narrow the spacing to 12.5 khz in order to allow more channels. Some years later in the 1970's, regulations changed to allow 50 watts output In the 1980's, the FCC decided to discontinue licensing businesses on this band in order to encourage them to move to newer frequencies. Congestion was getting to be an issue.

FRS was created in 1996 by the FCC as a low-cost, low-power, no licensing required alternative to the pricier GMRS radios, which were mostly the previously mentioned professional grade radios. They still are the least expensive route to choose if you need communications within a couple blocks, or, within a half mile or so, although it is hard now to find a cheap new FRS radio; for example, Icom still makes an FRS only walkie-talkie. It's very highly rated (Amateurs know that Icom is synonomous with quality) but the little Icom FRS handie is definitely not inexpensive.

The Future of GMRS...?

There is widespread speculation that the following changes will occur with GMRS in the near future.  In fact there are some proposals at FCC right now.  We may possibly have a balance between a couple of bad things with a couple of good things:

The cool:

  • Licensing will be done away with
  • A small number of new channels will be added to the existing 22 channels

The not so cool:

  • Power output to be reduced on handhelds (probably to only a couple watts)
  • Repeaters may be prohibited

See the 2010 proposal here:

gmrs fcc

There is an ongoing, ranting thread here:

Now note that these proposals were made four years ago... nothing has happened yet... the FCC may get around to these proposals again, or they may not.  So for the time being, status quo.