Originally Posted by tgduffy
It's my understanding that GMRS units require a license at $80/year.
The GMRS License is only if you use the GMRS channels or FRS channels at "Full Power" (8 watts). In an emergency, those channels would be available to you to reach help even without a license. (ONLY in an emergency, though).
"If you operate a radio that has been approved for both FRS and GMRS, and if you limit your operations to the FRS channels with a maximum power of ½ watt effective radiated power and an integral antenna, you are not required to have a license. (Note that some dual-service radios transmit with higher power on FRS channels 1 through 7; these radios can be used without a license only on FRS channels 8 through 14.)"
The license is 80 dollars for FIVE years. It can be used by EVERYONE in your family, even aunts and uncles; nieces and nephews. Just assign a Alpha letter to their radio. There is no test. You can program GMRS channels to reject all other traffic except for your other radio(s).
To use it you "open the net" with your call sign, use the radio as needed for as long as you need (retransmit your call sign every 15 minutes if needed), and close it with your call sign when finished.
NOTE: There are 4 GMRS channels you can't use close to the Canadian border (in the US) due to interference with Canadian assigned frequencies so you need to be aware if you camp up there.
All in all a great deal.
FYI - There is a rule change pending since 2010 that will remove the licensing requirement from GMRS systems. The proliferation of cheap Dual Band radios has resulted in "bubble pack Pirates" who use the radios without bothering to get licensed. Similar to the removal of the CB license requirement due to the number of folks who broke the law, this is only a matter of time as well.
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