The General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) is in the 462 - 467 MHz spectrum range. The most common use of GMRS spectrum is short-distance, two-way communications using small, portable hand-held devices that function similar to walkie-talkies.
BackgroundThe General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) dates back to the 1940’s when the FCC established the service for individuals and entities that were not eligible to hold “land mobile” licenses in public safety or industrial and land transportation services. The general rules for GMRS remained the same until 1988, when the FCC adopted rules to limit eligibility for new GMRS systems to individuals, in order to make the service more available to personal users who, unlike businesses, are not eligible to operate in other private land mobile radio services.
In 2010, the FCC proposed to remove the individual licensing requirement for GMRS and instead license GMRS “by rule” (meaning that an individual license would not be required to operate a GMRS device). This proposal is still pending.
LicensingAn FCC license is required to operate a General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) system. Licenses are issued for a five-year term and can be renewed between 90 days prior to the expiration date and up to the actual expiration date of the license.
A GMRS system licensed to a non-individual prior to July 31, 1987 is also eligible for renewal, but the licensee may not make any major modification to the system.
You can apply for a GMRS license if you are 18 years or older and not a representative of a foreign government. If you receive a license, any family member, regardless of age, can operate GMRS stations and units within the licensed system.
You can find information about GMRS licenses in the Universal Licensing System (ULS). The ULS radio service code and description for GMRS is ZA – General Mobile Radio Service.
The FCC service rules for the GMRS are located in 47 C.F.R. Part 95.
ChannelsThere are 23 GMRS channels and each channel is 25 kHz.
Operating a General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) SystemA GMRS system consists of station operators, a mobile station (often comprised of several mobile units) and sometimes one or more land stations. A small base station is one that has an antenna no more than 20 feet above the ground or above the tree on which it is mounted and transmits with no more than 5 watts ERP.
None of the GMRS 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.
You can expect a communications range of five to twenty-five miles. You cannot make a telephone call with a GMRS device.
Normally, you and your family members would communicate between yourselves over the general area of your residence, such as an urban or rural area. This area must be within the territorial limits of the fifty United States, the District of Columbia, and the Caribbean and Pacific Insular areas.
In transient use, mobile station devices from one GMRS system may communicate through a mobile relay station in another GMRS system with the permission of its licensee. The communications may also be with mobile station devices from other GMRS systems also with permission from the licensee to communicate through the mobile relay station.
General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) Channels Along the Canadian BorderGMRS applicants must certify that they will comply with the requirement that use of frequencies 462.650, 467.6500, 462.7000and 467.7000 MHz is not permitted near the Canadian border North of Line A and East of Line C. These frequencies are used throughout Canada and harmful interference is anticipated.
General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) and Family Radio Service (FRS) Dual DevicesSome 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.