The Family Radio Service (FRS) is a private, two-way, very short-distance voice and data communications service for facilitating family and group activities. The most common use for FRS channels is short-distance, two-way voice communications using small hand-held radios that are similar to walkie-talkies.
The FRS is authorized 14 channels, some of which are shared with GMRS. The rules for this service are in Part 95 subpart B of the Commission’s Rules.
FRS is licensed by rule. This means an individual license is not required to operate an FRS radio provide you comply with the rules. You may operate an FRS radio regardless of your age, and for personal or for business use if you are not a representative of a foreign government.
There are 14 FRS channels. Each channel has a bandwidth of 12.5 kHz.
Seven of the channels (Channels 1-7) are shared with the GMRS, so you may hear communications from GMRS station on these channels. The other seven channels are “FRS-only” channels.
Operating a Family Radio Service (FRS) Unit
You can operate a FRS transmitter at any place where the FCC regulates radio communications, subject to certain limitations. A FRS transmitter may not be modified and must be certified by the FCC. A certified FRS radio has an identifying label placed on it by the manufacturer.
None of the FRS channels are assigned for the exclusive use of any user. 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 stations is less than one-half mile. You may not interconnect FRS transmitters and radios with the telephone system.
GMRS FRS Dual-service radios
Some manufacturers have received approval to market radios that are certified for use in both the GMRS and the FRS. Other manufacturers have received approval of their transmitters under the GMRS rules, but market them as FRS/GMRS radios on the basis that:
- Some channels are authorized to both services, or
- A user of the radio may communicate with stations in the other service.
Radios marketed as "FRS/GMRS" or "dual-service radios" are available from many manufacturers and many retail or discount stores. The manual that comes with the radio, or the label placed on it by the manufacturer, should indicate the service the radio is certified for. If you cannot determine what service the radio may be used in, contact the manufacturer. If you operate a radio that has been approved exclusively under the FRS rules, you are not required to have a license. FRS transmitters have a maximum power of ½ watt (500 milliwatt) effective radiated power and integral (non-detachable) antennas. Radios that have been certified for use in the FRS may be found on the FCC website by using the page at https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/eas/reports/GenericSearch.cfm.