Family Radio Service

Technical information

FRS radios are limited to 500 milliwatts according to FCC regulations. Channels 1 to 7 are shared with low-power interstitial channels of GMRS, the General Mobile Radio Service. A license is required for those channels if the power output is over FRS limits.

Unlike Citizens‘ Band (CB) radios, FRS radios frequently have provisions for using sub-audible tone squelch (CTCSS and DCS) codes, filtering out unwanted chatter from other users on the same frequency. Although these codes are sometimes called „privacy codes“ or „private line codes“ (PL codes), they offer no protection from eavesdropping and are only intended to help share busy channels. Tone codes also do nothing to prevent desired transmissions from being swamped by stronger signals having a different code.

FRS stations on channels 1 through 7 may communicate with GMRS stations on those shared channels; the GMRS stations may use up to 5 watts of power, while the FRS stations are restricted to 0.5 watts.

The use of duplex radio repeaters and interconnects to the telephone network are prohibited under FRS rules, unlike GMRS which allows repeaters, and unlike the Amateur Radio Service. FRS radios must use only permanently-attached antennas. This limitation intentionally restricts the range of communications, allowing greatest use of the available channels.

FRS manufacturers generally claim exaggerated range. The presence of large buildings, trees, etc., will reduce range. Under exceptional conditions, (such as hill-top to hill-top) communication is possible over 60 km (40 miles) or more, but that is rare. Normal conditions, with line-of-sight blocked by a few buildings or trees, mean FRS has an actual range of 0.5 to 1.5 km (1/3 to 1 mile).

FRS/GMRS hybrid radios in the United States

Motorola FV150 FRS and GMRS handheld radio

Hybrid FRS/GMRS consumer radios have been introduced that have 22 channels. Many of these radios have been certified for unlicensed operation (on the 14 FRS frequencies, channels 1-14) under FRS rules.

The FCC rules and statements regarding the use of hybrid radios on channels 1-7 stipulate the need for a GMRS license when operating under the rules that apply to the GMRS. Many hybrid radios have an ERP that is lower than 0.5 watts on channels 1-7, or can be set by the user to operate at low power on these channels. This allows hybrid radios to be used under the license-free FRS rules if the ERP is less than 0.5 watts and the unit is certified for FRS operation on these frequencies.

Owners of hybrid radios should be aware that in the United States of America it is illegal to operate on channels 15-22 without an FCC GMRS license. Most radio manufacturers do not make this sufficiently clear to customers. Consequently, this can cause unlawful interference to GMRS licensees. As GMRS licenses cost money to obtain, such interference is a source of frustration for duly-licensed operators.

Channels 8-14 are exclusively for FRS. Accordingly, GMRS operation is not allowed on these channels. Channels 15-22 are reserved exclusively for GMRS. As noted, FRS operation is not allowed on these channels.

List of FRS channels

Channel

Frequency (MHz)

Notes

1

462.5625

Shared with GMRS.

2

462.5875

Shared with GMRS.

3

462.6125

Shared with GMRS.

4

462.6375

Shared with GMRS.

5

462.6625

Shared with GMRS.

6

462.6875

Shared with GMRS.

7

462.7125

Shared with GMRS.

8

467.5625

FRS use only

9

467.5875

FRS use only

10

467.6125

FRS use only

11

467.6375

FRS use only

12

467.6625

FRS use only

13

467.6875

FRS use only

14

467.7125

FRS use only

Some clubs have recommended FRS Channel 1 as a national emergency/calling channel, such as REACT International, Inc. and the National SOS Radio Network.

Channel 2 is typically used by geocaching groups when trying to connect with other geocachers.

Similar services in other regions

Personal UHF radio services similar to the American FRS exist in other countries, although since technical standards and frequency bands will differ, usually FCC-approved FRS equipment may not be used in other jurisdictions.

Taiwan

Some manufacturers in Taiwan have radios that carry both FRS and GMRS frequencies, using channels 1 to 99. Channels 1 to 14 are well-known, while channels 15 to 99 are less popular.

channels 15 462.9125, ch16 462.9375, ch17 462.9625, ch18 462.9875, ch19 463.0125, ch20 463.0375, ch21 …..

… ch98 464.9875, ch99 465.0125.

Canada

American-standard FRS radios have been approved for use in Canada since April 2000. The revised technical standard RSS 210 has essentially the same technical requirements as in the United States. Since September 2004,low-power GMRS radios and dual-standard FRS/GMRS radios have also been approved for use in Canada, giving additional channels. In Canada, no license is required and no restrictions are imposed on the GMRS channels.

Mexico

Since tourists often bring their FRS radios with them, and since trade between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico is of great value to all three countries, the Mexican Secretary of Communication and Transportation has authorized use of the FRS frequencies and equipment similar to that in the US. However, dual-mode FRS/GMRS equipment is not approved in Mexico, so caution should be exercised in operating hybrid FRS/GMRS devices purchased elsewhere.

Europe

In Europe, a personal radio service with the same sort of licensing restriction is PMR446 having eight channels in the 446 MHz range. One cannot legally use the FRS radio in Europe or PMR446 in the U.S. The 446 MHz band is allocated to amateur radio in the United States, so in principle a licensed amateur operator could use non-FCC-type-accepted PMR446 radios in the U.S. in compliance with the rules for amateur radio operation. In Great Britain, FRS frequencies are used for fire brigade communications and this sometimes causes problems when FRS equipment is imported from the U.S. and used without awareness of the consequences by members of the public. Sweden and Norway have a Kort Distanse Radio service with six UHF channels between 444.600 and 444.975 MHZ. European countries also have Low-power communication devices operating in the 433 MHZ band, and short-range devcies (SRD) operating on frequencies between 868 and 870 MHZ. These devices are restricted to 10 mW output power and are intended to provide an altenative to PMR 446 over short distances.

South America

Dual-mode GMRS/FRS equipment is also approved in Brazil and most South American countries. Portable radios are heavily used in private communications, mainly by security staff in nightclubs and malls, but also in private parking, maintenance, and delivery services.

China

A service similar to the American-style FRS in Hong Kong, Macau, and China is also approved by respective organizations for legal license-free operation, with the name of „Public Radio Service“. However, different UHF frequencies with 20 allocated channels near 409 MHz are used. 462 MHz and 446 MHz band are not opened to FRS service, so European, American, and Canadian residents are advised not to use FRS or PMR446 radios for communication when traveling to the aforementioned areas.

List of China Public Radio Service Channels:

Channel

Frequency (MHz)

1

409.7500

2

409.7625

3

409.7750

4

409.7875

5

409.8000

6

409.8125

7

409.8250

8

409.8375

9

409.8500

10

409.8625

11

409.8750

12

409.8875

13

409.9000

14

409.9125

15

409.9250

16

409.9375

17

409.9500

18

409.9625

19

409.9750

20

409.9875

Japan

In Japan, a similar service is limited to 10 millwatts in the 420, 421, and 422 MHz bands. It is called „Tokutei Shoudenryoku Musen“ („SLPR:Specified Low Power Radio“).

Australia and New Zealand

In Australia and New Zealand, the UHF CB citizen’s band near 477 MHz is used for a similar purpose. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) also allocated a band near 434 MHz for low-powered devices with low potential for interference to other users of the band.

South Africa

South Africa is in the process to conforming to ITC region 1 recommendations, they do allow 8 channels of FRS radios 446.0-446.1 MHz band currently, this is the same as the European PMR446.

Philippines

The Philippines has a radio service for use of families and small businesses. This service is called SRRS or Short Range Radio Service. Units are limited to simplex operations and have a power limitation of 2.5 watts.

This service has been allocated 40 channels in 325 MHZ spectrum:

Channel Frequency

Channel Frequency

Channel Frequency

Channel Frequency

1 325.0000

11 325.1250

21 325.2500

31 325.3750

2 325.0125

12 325.1375

22 325.2625

32 325.3875

3 325.0250

13 325.1500

23 325.2750

33 325.4000

4 325.0375

14 325.1625

24 325.2875

34 325.4125

5 325.0500

15 325.1750

25 325.3000

35 325.4250

6 325.0625

16 325.1875

26 325.3125

36 325.4375

7 325.0750

17 325.2000

27 325.3250

37 325.4500

8 325.0875

18 325.2125

28 325.3375

38 325.4625

9 325.1000

19 325.2250

29 325.3500

39 325.4750

10 325.1125

20 325.2375

30 325.3625

40 325.4875

Thailand

Thailand has an 80 channel CB-style service using FM in the band 245.000-245.9875 MHZ. Units are allowed up to 5 watts RF power. Besides personal use, the equipment is used by search and rescue and businesses. Operating rules are less restrictive than amateur radio service, with an initial license fee required. The hand-held units usually have a red case. There are an estimated one million users of the service, often in large cities.

Singapore

Since 3 February 2004, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has allocated the 446.0-446.1 MHz frequency band for low-powered walkie-talkies on a non-interference, non-protected and shared-use basis. As these walkie-talkies are low-powered devices which do not potentially cause interference to other licensed radio services, it need not be licensed for use in Singapore. However, the device must be type approved by IDA for local sale.

See also

General Mobile Radio Service

Multi-Use Radio Service

CTCSS

References

^ FCC: Wireless Services: Family Radio Service : Family Home

^ „Frequently Asked Questions“. Groundspeak Inc.. http://www.geocaching.com/faq/. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 

^ http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf01320.html Industry Canada RSS-210 – Low-power Licence-exempt Radiocommunication Devices (All Frequency Bands) retrieved 2009 Oct 23

^ http://www.oocities.com/wd9ewk/xe-frs.html Mexico’s Family Radio Service (FRS) equivalent retrieved 2009 Oct 23

^ ACMA spectrum for 434 MHz LIPD devices

^ http://r7.ntc.gov.ph/memopdf/fixedland/MC 02-01-97 .PDF MEMORANDUM CIRCULAR NO. 02-01-97 SUBJECT: LICENSING GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES FOR THE SHORT RANGE RADIO SERVICE (SRRS), retrieved 2009 Oct 23

^ http://www.rast.or.th/tares.html Thailand amateur radio emergency services , retrieved 2009 10 24

^ Wider Choice of Radio-Communication & Wireless Devices for Consumers and Total Annual Savings of $200,000 for Telecom Equipment Dealers: http://www.ida.gov.sg/News and Events/20050712103130.aspx?getPagetype=20

External links

CTCSS Codes for some Radios

FRS Radios in Mexico

Industry Canada discussion on the approval of FRS in Canada

Personal Radio Association

FRS and GMRS radio information and forums

F-R-S Communications Center

The situation of License Free Radio System in Japan

REACT International, Inc.

National SOS Radio Network

List of worldwide hand-held radio services retrieved 2009 10 24

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Two-way radio

Amateur and hobbyist

Amateur radio  Amateur radio repeater  Citizens‘ band radio  Family Radio Service  General Mobile Radio Service  Mobile rig  Multi-Use Radio Service  PMR446  LPD433  UHF CB (Australia)

Aviation (aeronautical mobile)

Air traffic control  Aircraft emergency frequency  Airband  Mandatory frequency airport  Single Frequency Approach  UNICOM

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Marine (shipboard)

2182 kHz  500 kHz  Coast radio station  Marine VHF radio  Maritime mobile amateur radio

Signaling / Selective calling

CTCSS  Dual-tone multi-frequency  D-STAR  MDC-1200  Push to talk  Quik Call I  Quik Call II  Selcall

System elements and principles

Antenna  Audio level compression  Automatic vehicle location  APRS  Call sign  CAD  DC remote  Dispatch  Fade margin  Link budget  Rayleigh fading  Tone remote  Voice procedure  Voting (diversity combining)

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