USA GMRS Association
Giving GMRS Licensed Users A Way To Be Represented & A Way To Advance Their Communication Abilities Across America

What's The Difference Between GMRS & FRS...

What's The Difference Between GMRS & FRS you ask?

Well for one, FRS radios have lower transmit power (like .5 watts of RF power output), must not have the ability to remove the antenna, and FRS channels require no license to transmit on them.

GMRS radios can run more power (up to and a max of 50 watts with no max on ERP) and GMRS users may use handhelds with removable and more effective antennas, and GMRS channels require a license (about $70.00) to operate on the GMRS frequencies and said license, once approved, are good now for ten years as issued from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Each service (GMRS & FRS) has its own set of frequency channels, and they share some (seven) common channels with each other. Different makes and models of radios may use different channel numbers for the same frequency. It's best to obtain radio equipment with the channels all programmed the same...

Most GMRS and FRS radios have tone encoders and decoders that may go under the name of “privacy code”, “PL”, Privacy Plus or the like. Some people even have refered to it as's not encryption.

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Got your License now what?...
Lets take it a step at a time:

Step 1: Which radio will you purchase for your first GMRS station?
Perhaps a mobile radio with a power supply for operating on as a Baste Station using a simplex channel? Operating as a control station for use on Repeaters? Maybe just a simple handheld transceiver?

Before you decide, review -- review -- review.... ask lots of questions in forums like on here or in social media groups.... Remember also, your first radio doesn’t have to be a brand new one. There are many older transceivers that have many years of useful service left in them. Such transceivers are often available for sale on-line at many different auction sites such as eBay. Craigs List, and more....

Step 2: Mobile or Portable (HT) for your mobile needs?

Please note: Portables work well when within a 5 mile radius of the base station or repeater. If you are planning on operating out further than 5 miles from the base or yourself (and others that will be talking to you) the favor of using a mobile radio and not a portable.... Of course you and only you know your surroundings and how well your radio system will work, but please take the time to evaluate your communications need ahead of time. Doing so shows how professional you really are....

Perhaps a mobile radio with a body mount antenna, or a mag mount antenna? Going mobile requires some real thinking... for use on repeaters or simplex, transceivers always work better with a antenna that is body mounted on the top and dead center of the vehicle. Magnetic mount antennas can be use, and like body mounts, should be on top of vehicle, and you should remember that such a antenna doesn't always allow for the best communications. Moister will eventually get up under the mag mount and you will start having issues where people complain you are br"breaking up"... Always try to use a body mount, even if it is mounted on the trunk lid....

Again, before you decide on your mobile or handheld portable (HT), review -- review -- review.... ask lots of questions in forums or in social media groups.... Also, your first radio doesn’t have to be a brand new one. There are many older transceivers that have many years of useful service left in them. Such transceivers are often available for sale on-line at many different auction sites such as eBay. Craigs List, and more...

Step 3: Base Station or Repeater?

1: What is a Base Station: Base stations, also known as, and are sometimes called control or fixed stations in US Federal Communications Commission licensing. These terms are defined in the FCC regulations inside Part 90 of the commissions regulations. In US licensing language, types of base stations include:
A fixed station is a base station used in a system intended only to communicate with other base stations. A fixed station can also be radio link used to operate a distant base station by remote control. (No mobile or hand-held radios are involved in the system.)
A control station is a base station used in a system with a repeater where the base station is used to communicate through the repeater.
A temporary base is a base station used in one location for less than a year.
A repeater is a type of base station that extends the range of hand-held and mobile radios.
< So pretty basically it is a radio that is used at the home and/or office for communicating directly to mobile(s) or portable(s) over short distances. Mostly line of site type of communications (depending on the height of the antenna), and items such as trees, buildings, and other types of man made structures can interfere with the distance and delivery of the communication signals.

2: What is a Repeater:

A radio repeater is a combination of a radio receiver and a radio transmitter, working simultaneously, that receives a weak or low-level signal and retransmits it at a higher level or higher power (again depending on the height of the antenna), so that two-way radio signals can cover longer distances without degradation.
With-in GMRS communications, repeaters are most commonly used to relay radio signals across a wider area. A repeater is an automatic radio-relay station, usually located on a mountain top, tall building, or radio tower. It allows communication between two or more bases, mobile or portable stations that are unable to communicate directly with each other due to distance or obstructions between them.

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