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Old 10-10-2018, 05:25 PM   #1
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Post GMRS FCC License - Do You Need one? Depends

Thought I'd spreed some information I learned.

Just bought a pair of Cobra ACXT1035R FLT Walkie Talkies. I bought them because when we drove from Green Bay, WI to Dayton, OR at times we had no cell service to communicate between my wife and I. Thus I wanted ensure that does not happen again as we drive from Dayton, OR to Mesa, AZ over the Sierra range and other possible spotty areas.

The Cobra ACXT1035R FLT Walkie Talkies are General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) compatible and I was wondering if I needed a license to operate them in the upper range. The lower range/mode is referred to as Family Radio Service (FRS).

I had read several stories/reviews/mini blogs about whether you need a FCC license to operate in General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). The FCC page linked describes the actual radio frequencies but as I understood in my research it actually depends on your radio output wattage.

After some investigation I discovered that because these are 2W we do not require a license. Bottom line is if your W/T or radio is 2W or under you do not need a FCC license. Anything over 2W requires a FCC license.

Of course this could change because there is a proposal in the FCC to stop issuing these licenses altogether. But that has been in the works since 2010.
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Old 10-10-2018, 06:13 PM   #2
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FRS (family radio service) requires no license, but GMRS ( General mobile radio service) does require a license. The license is $70 and is good for 10 years, it includes all immediate family members to use.
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Old 10-10-2018, 06:41 PM   #3
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Talking abut the Cobra model I bought - As an unlicensed operator, you may use channels 1-7 in "low power mode", which puts out about half a watt of power. As an unlicensed operator, you are also free to use channels 8-14, which are FRS only. The higher channels of 15-22 are GMRS only and channels 1-7 in high power mode (these radios put out about 2.5 watts) are also GMRS. If you want to use the high channels or the lower channels in HIGH POWER mode, you will need an FCC license to do so legally. THUS if you are 2W or under you do not need a license.
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Old 10-10-2018, 06:52 PM   #4
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These hybrid FRS/GMRS radios have been a cluster from day one. Until last year channels 8-14 and low power (0.5W) were classified as FRS and didn't require a license. Using other channels at 2W was GMRS and required a license. Obviously nobody understood this and everybody was using high power on whatever channel worked for them.
The changes last year now classify the channels 1-22 when used under 2W as FRS (8-14 are still limited to 0.5W). More than 2W is GMRS. Not much better because now licensed users running up to 50W and consumer handhelds share some of the higher channels, running at different bandwidth to boot.
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Old 10-10-2018, 07:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGerman View Post
These hybrid FRS/GMRS radios have been a cluster from day one. Until last year channels 8-14 and low power (0.5W) were classified as FRS and didn't require a license. Using other channels at 2W was GMRS and required a license. Obviously nobody understood this and everybody was using high power on whatever channel worked for them.
The changes last year now classify the channels 1-22 when used under 2W as FRS (8-14 are still limited to 0.5W). More than 2W is GMRS. Not much better because now licensed users running up to 50W and consumer handhelds share some of the higher channels, running at different bandwidth to boot.
So, basically I have it right that over 2W requires a license. I understand people will/do abuse this. Especially if the unit has a boost mode/function. I was hoping by adding this thread I could shed some light on a frequently encountered question that has numerous conflicting answers throughout their threaded responses. I also read somewhere where throttling back was happening as well.
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Old 10-10-2018, 07:41 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by lemieuxray View Post
So, basically I have it right that over 2W requires a license.

Law says “up to two watts”. In law that means just short of two watts. If it included 2 watts, the law would say “up to and including “.
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:50 PM   #7
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Anything you can buy without a license will be used without a license! Expecting anything else is naive.

Amazon and others sell boxcar loads of PRC produced Baofeng (and other) transceivers weekly. These will receive (and transmit!) on FRS, GMRS, Marine VHF, 2 Meter Ham and countless other bands. Here's the description of my lil BF-F8HP hand held.
Quote:
Upgrades from our Previous Generation UV-5R: Twice the Output Power (8 watts up from 4 watts output), New Hardened Durable Radio Shell, 30% Larger Battery, V-85 High Gain Antenna (Twice the Antenna Performance), USA Support + In-depth User Guide Included

High / Med / Low Power Settings (8W, 4W, 1W); Frequency Range: 65-108 MHz(Only commercial FM radio reception) VHF: 136-174 MHz(Rx/Tx). UHF: 400-520 MHz(Rx/Tx); Broad (Wide) / Narrowband (Narrow) Selectable.
Getting an amateur license to legally use the 2M band license is easy if anyone wants to bother. Advantage of a license is zoning or a HOA can't prevent you putting up an antenna.

About 4" tall less the antenna.



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Old 10-10-2018, 09:02 PM   #8
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GMRS FCC License - Do You Need one? Depends

I did get the GMRS license.

What makes me feel old is that I still recall my memorized CB license number back from the days that a CB radio required licensing (a requirement eliminated by Congress and President Reagan in 1982). I still use CBs in both of my trucks.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:07 PM   #9
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The CB license was eliminated because you and I were two of the three people who bothered to get one.

License requirement is covered under various international treaties. Enforcement on these bands has little emphasis.

Listened on CB recently? Heard anything or any body? My scanner rarely detects anything even when set to concentrate on the band.

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Old 10-10-2018, 09:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck_S View Post
The CB license was eliminated because you and I were two of the three people who bothered to get one.

License requirement is covered under various international treaties. Enforcement on these bands has little emphasis.

Listened on CB recently? Heard anything or any body? My scanner rarely detects anything even when set to concentrate on the band.

-- Chuck


A lot of farm semi trucks out now with harvest and some grain elevators use, so there is some rural use now along with the regular highway driver use mainly at traffic, accident sites, and road construction and when just bored. But if you get off of channel 19 I don’t find a soul. In the late 70’s each rural berg had its own channel and you couldn’t get hardly break in at all. The CB was the Facebook of the 1970s and 1980s.

I speculate that 20 years from now Facebook will be looked back on in the same way..a craze that will soon disappear.

That being said and back to the original post, handheld CBs may get a better range than GMRS, can communicate back to a vehicle based CB, and definitely doesn’t need a license. Another alternative to consider.
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