Frequently Asked Questions – GMRS
What is GMRS?
The General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) is a channelized, licensed radio service that uses radio frequencies around 462 MHz and 467 MHz. The most common use of GMRS channels is for short-distance, two-way voice communications using hand-held radios, mobile radios and repeater systems.
GMRS is available to individuals for short-distance two-way communications to facilitate the activities of licensees and their immediate family members.
In 2017, the FCC updated the GMRS by allotting additional interstitial channels in the 467 MHz band, increased the license term from 5 to 10 years, allowed transmission of limited data applications such as text messaging and GPS location information and made other updates to the GMRS rules to reflect modern application of the service.
What does channelized mean?
Unlike Amateur radios, GMRS has assigned frequencies that are to be used. These specific frequencies are called channels. GMRS has 30 channels. 22 of them are for simplex use, 8 of them are for repeater use.
Why do I need a license?
An FCC license is required to operate GMRS system. The FCC requires a GMRS license as a way to regulate frequencies that are used by two-way radio devices. Licenses are issued for a ten-year term and can be renewed between 90 days prior to the expiration date and up to the actual expiration date of the license.
A single GMRS license can be shared with your immediate family. Immediate family members are the licensee’s spouse, children, grandchildren, stepchildren, parents, grandparents, stepparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and in-laws.
What are the FCC rules for GMRS?
No messages in connection with any activity which is against Federal, State, or local law No false or deceptive messages.
No coded messages with hidden meanings (“10 codes” are permissible – CB users, you know what we mean but for those of you scratching your head check this link for a 10 Code List)
No music, whistling, sound effects or material to amuse or entertain
No ads or offers for the sale of goods or services
No ads for political candidates or political campaigns
No international distress signals (like Mayday) unless in a vehicle in immediate danger
No communicating with stations in the Amateur Radio Service, any unauthorized station, or to any foreign station
No continuous or uninterrupted transmissions (unless communications have to do with the immediate safety of life or property)
No messages for public address systems
Must identify using your FCC-assigned call sign at the end of a conversation and at 15-minute intervals during conversations.
What’s the difference between GMRS and FRS radios?
Unlike the FRS (Family Radio Service) Band, which many people use with cheap, throw-away blister-pack radios with fixed antennas and very low power limits (0.5 Watts ~ 2 Watts), GMRS allows external antennas and up 5 Watts of power for handheld “HT” or “Walkie-Talkie” radios and up to 50 Watts for mobile and base station radios. GMRS Radios can also use “repeaters,” greatly increasing your potential operating range. All of this makes GMRS radio a better choice for serious recreational or emergency communications than FRS.
Are GMRS radios compatible with CB?
GMRS (and FRS) radios use FM transmission in the UHF radio band. Because they operate at a much higher frequency than CB (approximately 462 megahertz, compared with 27 megahertz for CB), they can’t communicate with CB radios.