FRS, or the Family Radio Service band is part of the PRS, or Personal Radio Service bands, as outlined by 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 kids (usually with cheap, essentially throw-away blister-pack or bubble-pack FRS walkie-talkies), individual preppers, families, community groups, and even some businesses.
The FRS service consists of 14 frequencies, which overlap on 7 channels 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.
|Channel||Rx Freq.||Tx Freq.||Std. Tx PL||Mode||Power|
|FRS/GMRS 1 CALL||462.5625||462.5625||67.0||NFM||.5 W|
|FRS/GMRS 2||462.5875||462.5875||67.0||NFM||.5 W|
|FRS/GMRS 3 EM||462.6125||462.6125||67.0||NFM||.5 W|
|FRS/GMRS 4||462.6375||462.6375||67.0||NFM||.5 W|
|FRS/GMRS 5||462.6625||462.6625||67.0||NFM||.5 W|
|FRS/GMRS 6||462.6875||462.6875||67.0||NFM||.5 W|
|FRS/GMRS 7||462.7125||462.7125||67.0||NFM||.5 W|
|FRS 8||467.5625||467.5625||67.0||NFM||.5 W|
|FRS 9||467.5875||467.5875||67.0||NFM||.5 W|
|FRS 10||467.6125||467.6125||67.0||NFM||.5 W|
|FRS 11||467.6375||467.6375||67.0||NFM||.5 W|
|FRS 12||467.6625||467.6625||67.0||NFM||.5 W|
|FRS 13||467.6875||467.6875||67.0||NFM||.5 W|
|FRS 14||467.7125||467.7125||67.0||NFM||.5 W|
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), FRS radios are required to have fixed antennas (non-removable) and very low power output (only 0.5 Watts). 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.