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Family Radio Service (FRS)

The Family Radio Service (FRS) is in the 462 - 467 MHz spectrum range. The most common use for FRS spectrum is short-distance, two-way communications using small, portable hand-held devices that function similar to walkie-talkies. 

Similar services include the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) and the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS).

Background
The Family Radio Service (FRS) dates back to 1996 when the FCC authorized the use of 14 channels within the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) for use by FRS.   

Licensing
The Family Radio Service (FRS) is licensed by rule. This means an individual license is not required to operate an FRS device. You can operate an FRS device regardless of your age and for personal or business use so long as you are not a representative of a foreign government.

The FCC service rules for the Family Radio Service (FRS) are located in 47 C.F.R. Part 95.

Channels
There are 14 FRS channels and each channel is 12.5 kHz.

  • 462.5625
  • 462.5875
  • 462.6125
  • 462.6375
  • 462.6625
  • 462.6875
  • 462.7125
  • 467.5625
  • 467.5875
  • 467.6125
  • 467.6375
  • 467.6625
  • 467.6875
  • 467.7125

Operating a Family Radio Service (FRS) Unit
You can operate an FRS device in any place where the FCC regulates radio communications. An FRS device cannot be modified and must be certified by the FCC. A certified FRS device has an identifying label placed on it by the manufacturer.

None of the FRS channels are assigned for the exclusive use of any system. You must cooperate in the selection and use of the channels in order to make the most effective use of them and to reduce the possibility of interference.

The usual range of communications between FRS devices is less than one mile. You cannot make telephone calls with an FRS device.

General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) and Family Radio Service (FRS) Dual Devices
Some manufacturers have received approval to market devices that are certified for use in both the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) and the Family Radio Service (FRS). Other manufacturers have received approval of their devices under the GMRS rules, but market them as FRS/GMRS devices on the basis that:

  • Some channels are authorized to both services, or
  • A user of the device may communicate with stations in the other service.

Devices marketed as "FRS/GMRS" or "dual-service devices" are available from many manufacturers and many retail or discount stores. The manual that comes with the device, or the label placed on it by the manufacturer, should indicate the service the device is certified for. If you cannot determine what service the device may be used in, contact the manufacturer. If you operate a device that has been approved exclusively under the rules that apply to FRS, you are not required to have a license.  FRS devices have a maximum power of ½ watt (500 milliwatt) effective radiated power and integral (non-detachable) antennas. If you operate a device under the rules that apply to GMRS, you must have a GMRS license. GMRS devices generally transmit at higher power levels (1 to 5 watts is typical) and may have detachable antennas.

If you operate a radio that has been approved for both FRS and GMRS, and if you limit your operations to the FRS channels with a maximum power of ½ watt effective radiated power, you are not required to have a license. (Note that some dual-service radios transmit with higher power on FRS channels 1 through 7; these radios can be used without a license only on FRS channels 8 through 14.)
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