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FRS (Family Radio Service) Band Info

FRS, or the Family Radio Service band is part of the PRS, or Personal Radio Service bands, as outlined by 47 CFR Part 95B of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), which regulates and makes rules for the use of all RF (Radio Frequency) radio spectrum in the United States. The band is usable for personal or business two-way radio communications, and is used by individual preppers, families, community groups, and even some businesses, and are often used for recreation, sports and everyday family and business communications. FRS is more commonly used by kids as a toy, usually with cheap, essentially throw-away blister-pack or bubble-pack FRS walkie-talkies, and is considered more of a consumer band as compared to GMRS.

Typical FRS Radios

Typical Older FRS Radios

After recent FCC revisions of the PRS rules, the FRS service consists of 22 FRS frequencies, all of which are now shared with the GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) band. Transmitting on FRS channels does not require an FCC license, but there are restrictions on which radios you can use on the service, as outlined below.

FRS Frequencies with Combined GMRS Band Plan

ChBandRx
Freq
Tx
Freq
Mode
FRS, GMRS
Power
FRS, GMRS
01 CALLFRS/GMRS462.5625462.5625NFM, FM2W, 5W
02FRS/GMRS462.5875462.5875NFM, FM2W, 5W
03 EMFRS/GMRS462.6125462.6125NFM, FM2W, 5W
04FRS/GMRS462.6375462.6375NFM, FM2W, 5W
05FRS/GMRS462.6625462.6625NFM, FM2W, 5W
06FRS/GMRS462.6875462.6875NFM, FM2W, 5W
07FRS/GMRS462.7125462.7125NFM, FM2W, 5W
08FRS/GMRS467.5625467.5625NFM.5W
09FRS/GMRS467.5875467.5875NFM.5W
10FRS/GMRS467.6125467.6125NFM.5W
11FRS/GMRS467.6375467.6375NFM.5W
12FRS/GMRS467.6625467.6625NFM.5W
13FRS/GMRS467.6875467.6875NFM.5W
14FRS/GMRS467.7125467.7125NFM.5W
15FRS/GMRS462.5500462.5500
467.5500
NFM, FM2W, 50W
16FRS/GMRS462.5750462.5750
467.5750
NFM, FM2W, 50W
17 EMFRS/GMRS462.6000462.6000
467.6000
NFM, FM2W, 50W
18FRS/GMRS462.6250462.6250
467.6250
NFM, FM2W, 50W
19FRS/GMRS462.6500462.6500
467.6500
NFM, FM2W, 50W
20 EM/TRFRS/GMRS462.6750462.6750
467.6750
NFM, FM2W, 50W
21FRS/GMRS462.7000462.7000
467.7000
NFM, FM2W, 50W
22FRS/GMRS462.7250462.7250
467.7250
NFM, FM2W, 50W
(FRS use is not allowed on the 467MHz GMRS Repeater inputs on chs. 15-22, but is now allowed on the 462MHz GMRS Repeater outputs – GMRS allows “wide” FM for simplex or repeater use on chs. 1-7 & 15-22 – NFM = 12.5kHz, FM = 20kHz – CALL = Calling Channel – EM = Emergency/Prepper freq. – TR = Travel Safety & Assistance)

 

Being in the UHF band between 462 & 467 MHz (megahertz), FRS is particularly useful for indoor and urban settings, because these higher frequencies have a tendency to reflect and bounce around between obstructions, and thus reach their destination when lower VHF frequencies would otherwise be absorbed and fall off. On the same token, FRS usually doesn’t do as well in rural, outdoor settings because the UHF waves tend to be absorbed more by trees and foliage, and don’t “bend” over hills as well as lower frequencies. This is why we recommend an EmComm radio that can do both UHF GMRS and VHF MURS at the same time, keeping you safe and in contact in just about any setting. We don’t recommend using FRS or hybrid FRS/GMRS radios except for casual family use (like around your home or yard).

Unlike GMRS two-way radios, which allow external antennas and up to 5 Watts of power for handheld radios and up to 50 Watts for mobile and base station radios (which can greatly increase your operating range), or MURS radios, which allow external antennas and up to 2 Watts of power for portable radios, FRS radios are required to have fixed antennas (non-removable and typically very short) and low power output (up to 2 Watts max), with the previous power limit being only .5 Watts (before September 2017). Today, when people use the term “walkie talkies,” FRS radios are usually what they’re referring to because of their toy-like effectiveness (although they are typically much better than the walkie-talkies you had as a kid if you’re over 30), but the term does apply to commercial handheld radios as well, stigma or not.

While FRS radios are still useful for short-range non-critical communications, because they are a low-end consumer-based service, the FRS channels can become crowded at times and we do not recommend them for serious recreational, business, prepper or SHTF emergency communications, even though FRS Channel 3 has been unofficially designated as an emergency channel.

We’ll be providing more information about this band soon.

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