Imagine, going down a four wheel drive road with your mates. The mud is flying, girls shrieking in the back seat as you go over every bump. You sink into a hole deeper than you thought, and the wheels spin. Your friends in the car ahead of you keep driving. You reach for the walkie-talkie beside you and......silence.
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Two-Ways, FRS, and GMRS - Which Do I Need?
Ground Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) is a Licensed radio service. Unlike ham radio, a test does not need to be taken to acquire a license, just a form filled out and money sent in. You are then assigned a callsign to use GMRS channels. External antennas are permitted and a higher power output is allowed than for FRS devices. With the assistance of a repeater, they can go 30 miles or further. GMRS and FRS radios can both communicate on channels 1-7, however only GMRS licensees may exceed the half watt FRS power limitation on these channels and use external antennas. GMRS repeaters may not be placed on those channels.
Family Radio Service (FMS) is fairly new, authorized for use in the U.S. The FCC created an unlicensed band of 14 channels for walkie-talkies. They limited power output to 500mW and restricted radios to have non-removable antennas. These radios typically work a mile or two outdoors, largely depending on surrounding terrain and foliage.
All 2-way radios that are capable of using GMRS channels have a license application included in the box. To set an FRS/GMRS radio to operate on GMRS channels, you MUST be a licensed user. It is against the law to transmit on GMRS channels without a license and there is a large fine for doing so.