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
The not so cool:
See the 2010 proposal here: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-10-106A1.pdf
There is an ongoing, ranting thread
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.