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FCC Adopts Long Awaited Changes to PRS Bands – GMRS, FRS, CB & MURS

FCC Adopts Long Awaited Changes to PRS Bands – GMRS, FRS, CB & MURS
May 18, 2017 Mark Lindsey

FCC Part 95 Rule Changes for 2017On May 18th 2017, the FCC adopted parts of a long-standing Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that affects several of the PRS (Personal Radio Service) bands, which include GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service), FRS (Family Radio Service), and CB (Citizens Band), now called the CBRS (CB Radio Service). MURS (Multi-Use Radio Service) remains largely unchanged. Read the full FCC Report & Order.

Implementation of the rules took effect 30 days after the new order was published on 08/29/17 (effective on 09/28/17), but some of the equipment changes required by the new rules won’t take place for 90 days to 24 months.

We’ll dive deeper into the changes and also what exciting new gear and programming configurations we’ll be offering to take advantage of the new GMRS capabilities in future posts, but in the meantime, here are some bullet points of the rule changes that might affect BetterSafeRadio customers and FRS/GMRS users in general:

  • Hybrid FRS/GMRS “Bubble Pack” radios will no longer be certified in the future by the FCC. Radios will now only be certified as either FRS, or GMRS (or MURS), etc.
  • FRS radios can now operate on the previously GMRS-only 462 MHz (GMRS ch. 15-22) Channels. Yes, these are the GMRS repeater output frequencies, which could cause even more repeater interference by FRS users (especially considering the next item below), but they will not be allowed to transmit on the repeater input channels, so no repeater use for FRS.
  • FRS radios will now be authorized to use up to 2 Watts ERP (Effective Radiated Power) on FRS 462 MHz frequencies (FRS ch. 1-7), and on the new shared FRS/GMRS 462 MHz frequencies (GMRS ch. 15-22). This means a kid with an FRS radio running 2W next door to you, might be able to mask your repeater reception if they are close to your antenna (although they’ve been doing this with the hybrid FRS/GMRS radios for years).
  • Existing FRS/GMRS hybrid radios that use 2W or less, will now be retro-reclassified as FRS radios, using the new expanded FRS capabilities.
  • Existing FRS/GMRS hybrid radios that put out MORE than 2W, will now be retro-reclassified as GMRS radios, will still require a GMRS license, and will allow the new expanded FRS/GMRS interstitial channels (previously FRS-only ch. 8-14 – see below).
  • GMRS will now become Part 95E (instead of Part 95A), FRS (Part 95B) and MURS (Part 95J) remaining the same.
  • GMRS licenses (and new renewals) will now be good for 10 years (est. $75 license fee).
  • GMRS radios will remain largely the same, except that they will gain use of the previously FRS-only 467 MHz (ch. 8-14) frequencies, with the same technical limits that previously applied to FRS radios (.5W with a built-in antenna). This adds 7 new shared “interstitial” GMRS channels, giving existing hybrid FRS/GMRS radio users more legal options to find a clear simplex channel (but still shared with all the .5W FRS radios out in the world now).
  • Part 90 certified radios are still not officially legal to transmit with on GMRS, even though FCC acknowledged that many people use them as such.
  • GMRS will now also allow digital GPS and Short Text Messaging between specific radios, limited to a maximum of 1 second per every 30 seconds, and only on radios that have integrated antennas, and not on repeaters, which will hopefully limit interference to serious GMRS users, but allow these digital services for short-range simplex communications. This does NOT mean you can use DMR or P25 (or any other digital voice encoding) on FRS or GMRS.
  • CB radios (Part 95D) will no longer be required to have their serial number etched onto the outside of their cases.
  • CB operation will no longer be restricted from long-distance “SKIP” communications, although the power limits will remain at 4W on AM and 12W PEP on SSB.

Here’s a handy little chart of the new GMRS/FRS band frequencies, which will now be officially channelized by the FCC:

FRS/GMRS Combined Band Plan

ChOldNewRx
Freq
Tx
Freq
Mode
FRS, GMRS
Power
FRS, GMRS
01 CALLFRS/GMRSFRS/GMRS462.5625462.5625NFM2W, 5W
02FRS/GMRSFRS/GMRS462.5875462.5875NFM2W, 5W
03 EMFRS/GMRSFRS/GMRS462.6125462.6125NFM2W, 5W
04FRS/GMRSFRS/GMRS462.6375462.6375NFM2W, 5W
05FRS/GMRSFRS/GMRS462.6625462.6625NFM2W, 5W
06FRS/GMRSFRS/GMRS462.6875462.6875NFM2W, 5W
07FRS/GMRSFRS/GMRS462.7125462.7125NFM2W, 5W
08FRSFRS/GMRS467.5625467.5625NFM.5W
09FRSFRS/GMRS467.5875467.5875NFM.5W
10FRSFRS/GMRS467.6125467.6125NFM.5W
11FRSFRS/GMRS467.6375467.6375NFM.5W
12FRSFRS/GMRS467.6625467.6625NFM.5W
13FRSFRS/GMRS467.6875467.6875NFM.5W
14FRSFRS/GMRS467.7125467.7125NFM.5W
15GMRSFRS/GMRS462.5500462.5500
467.5500
NFM, FM2W, 50W
16GMRSFRS/GMRS462.5750462.5750
467.5750
NFM, FM2W, 50W
17 EMGMRSFRS/GMRS462.6000462.6000
467.6000
NFM, FM2W, 50W
18GMRSFRS/GMRS462.6250462.6250
467.6250
NFM, FM2W, 50W
19GMRSFRS/GMRS462.6500462.6500
467.6500
NFM, FM2W, 50W
20 EM/TRGMRSFRS/GMRS462.6750462.6750
467.6750
NFM, FM2W, 50W
21GMRSFRS/GMRS462.7000462.7000
467.7000
NFM, FM2W, 50W
22GMRSFRS/GMRS462.7250462.7250
467.7250
NFM, FM2W, 50W
(FRS use is not allowed on the 467MHz GMRS Repeater inputs on chs. 15-22 – GMRS allows “wide” FM for simplex or repeater us on chs. 15-22 – NFM = 12.5kHz, FM = 25kHz – CALL = Calling Channel – EM = Emergency/Prepper freq. – TR = Travel Safety & Assistance)

 

While these changes will simplify the rules and expand shared “interstitial” channels in both the FRS and MURS bands, it may also open up GMRS to more interference from newer, 2W FRS radios. We think this change makes MURS even more attractive for personal, business or emergency/prepper SHTF uses, because it’s VHF and still underutilized as compared to FRS/GMRS.

Now that GMRS will have 22 channels available, 30 if you consider the repeater configurations, TERA TR-505 and other 16-channel radio users will need to make some decisions as to which channels they want programmed. Those using larger radios (for emergency use only) such as the TERA TR-590, Wouxun KG-UV3D or Wouxun KG-UV9D (Plus), will be able to program and access all of the FRS, GMRS & MURS frequencies (although Part 90 or 97 radios are not type-accepted for transmitting on the FRS/GMRS/MURS bands).

What do you think of these changes and how they might affect the bands? Let us know with a comment below… and Be Safe!

Note: Article revised on 08/18/17 to reflect correct power (.5W) for 467 MHz FRS/GMRS interstitial channels.
Note: Article revised on 08/30/17 to confirm Federal Register publishing date of 8/29/17.
Note: Article revised on 09/28/17 to confirm active date of new rules of 8/28/17 and add notes about license term, fee, and Part 90 GMRS radios use.
Note: Article revised on 09/28/17 to fix typo about new FRS 2W use on 462 (instead of 467) MHz FRS channels. Other typo fixes on Band Plan chart. Clarification on digital modes and CB power limits.

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