FRSGMRSMURSCBNWR Frequency and so on the difference
General Mobile Radio Service
GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) dates back to the 1940s when the FCC established the service for “individuals and entities that were not eligible to hold ‘land mobile’ licenses in public safety or industrial and land transportation services.” Basically, it was originally available for private citizens and business, but in 1988 the FCC limited eligibility to private citizens (individuals) only.
GMRS frequencies require an FCC license to operate on (don’t worry, there’s no test – more on this later). Recently the FCC has started to allow companies to manufacture dual-service devices, which are FRS and GMRS capable radios. The FCC still states, however, that to actually use these extra GMRS channels on the dual-service device, you still need to have a license. For instance, the burden is on the user to ensure they’re not violating the FCC rules. What’s even more confusing is that some companies sell FRS/GMRS radios with channels 1-7 operating at more than the maximum 0.5 watt power, which means you have to know this and if you don’t have a GMRS license, limit yourself to FRS channels 8-14.
It’s very confusing to me why the FCC would let this happen if they’re so worried about licensing GMRS and how easy it is to mistakenly use a dual-service device improperly. I think they’re giving the average consumer too much credit to know the laws surrounding a dual-service device they may have just purchased, but I digress.
To bring you up to speed on why companies would be selling these FRS/GMRS radios with channels 1-7 operating at more than 0.5 watts, let’s get more into just what GMRS is all about.
Multi User Radio Service
MURS (Multi User Radio Service) was introduced in its current form back in 2002, when the FCC changed the service rules for its 5 VHF frequencies. MURS is unlicensed and its frequencies can be used by any businesses or any person, regardless of age, provided they’re not a representative of a foreign government.
Every frequency we’ve discussed up to this point (FRS and GMRS) has been UHF. MURS is a tremendous resource that provides 5 VHF frequencies with a max power output of 2 watts. That’s four times the power of FRS radios. We’ve been running MURS on our ITS radios and can’t say enough good things about the radio service. We ran radios using MURS during this year’s ITS Muster and Skill-Set Development Excursion. Each squad was assigned a radio to communicate with and they worked extremely well for this purpose.
Family Radio Service
In 1996, the personal radios we’re all used to today were introduced. Family Radio Service (FRS) capable devices are great for simple around town communication, but lack the power (read wattage) to truly be effective at long range communication.
CB Radio (Citizens Band) dates back to its establishment in the 1940s by the FCC, but it wasn’t until 1983 that the license requirement was lifted. A business or a person of any age is eligible to operate a CB, provided you aren’t a representative of a foreign government.
A CB radio is an awesome tool to have at your disposal for vehicle-to-vehicle communication and even emergency purposes. The 27 MHz frequencies used by CB are relatively poor indoors and discourage the use of handheld radios. Many CB radios also have weather frequencies built in to receive NOAA National Weather Service alerts. More on Weather frequencies in the next section.
Single Side Band
SSB is a refinement of amplitude modulation (AM), which uses transmitter power and bandwidth more efficiently. Channels 36–40 are designated for SSB use, with channel 36 being the unofficial calling channel for making contact and channels 37-40 being used for continued conversation. AM only CB radios are asked to not use channels 36 through 40 and SSB stations are requested to stay off the remaining 35 channels. This theoretically provides interference-free operation by separating the more powerful SSB stations from the AM stations.
Here are a few additional things to keep in mind when using a CB radio:
You may not raise the power output of a CB device.
You may not attach a “linear,” “linear amplifier” or any other type of power amplifier to your CB device.
There are no height restrictions for antennas mounted on vehicles or for hand-held devices.
For structures, the highest point of your antenna must not be more than 20 feet above the highest point of the building or tree on which it is mounted, or 60 feet above the ground.
There are lower height limits if your antenna structure is located within two miles of an airport: If your antenna is more than 20 feet above the ground, the highest point of the antenna must not exceed 1 meter above the airport elevation for every 100 meters of distance from the nearest point of the nearest airport runway.
You can use an on-the-air pseudonym (“handle”) of your choosing. “Rubber ducky, this is Large Marge, come on back.”
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. NWR broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
These Weather frequencies below are a great way to stay informed of weather that may be moving in or even to just check the temperature outside. If you’ve ever tuned into these weather frequencies, it’s hard not to get sucked in and feel like you’re in the middle of an important brief. The automated voice broadcasting the weather information is eerily creepy too.