Family Radio Service FRS

What is Family Radio Service (FRS) and what is an FRS Radio?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized Family Radio Service in 1996 as a short distance, unlicensed, two-way voice service for general purpose use. Family Radio Service is meant to be used for direct, personal voice communications among two or more people. FRS radios are personal two-way (send/receive) radios which conform to the FCC FRS specifications. In brief, they're an inexpensive and easy way to communicate with family and friends over short distances (under 2 miles). They can be used within a neighborhood or while at a shopping mall, ball game, amusement park, etc. FRS radios can be used by groups engaged in activities that take people out of sight or earshot of each other while remaining in the same general area, such as while hiking, hunting, camping, bicycling, caravaning, etc. FRS radios are small, rugged and easy to use, so they can be used by children as well as adults.

FRS radios offer 14 separate communications channels, and each channel can handle up to 38 separate conversations or "talk groups." This means that FRS radios provide 1038 (14 x 38) separate pathways for conversations to take place at any time. Conversations or talk groups can include two or more people, as long as everyone in the conversation has an FRS radio tuned to the same channel and talk group. These talk groups are used only to filter out the other communications occurring on that channel (and not using that code) at the same time. Once the monitor key is pressed, any communication present on that channel becomes audible.

Channel and talk groups are shared by FRS radio users on a "take turn" basis, and they cannot be assigned exclusively to any specific individual or organization. Because FRS radios conform to specifications established by the FCC, people using FRS radios from one manufacturer can communicate with people using FRS radios from other manufacturers.

Family Radios all have a special function generally known as signaling tones. Manufacturers sometimes refer to this feature as  "Quiet Code, DCS (Digitally Coded Squelch), PL (Private Line) or something similar, depending on the brand. When one of these codes is set in the radio it will only "hear" other radios set to the same code. To keep things as simple and memorable as possible, it is recommend designate the code setting to be "OFF", which is one choice all the radios must offer. This way people with different units may communicate with each other.

Unlike ham radios or cell phones, FCC radios do not require users to have a license or third-party authorization. FRS radios are not connected to the public telephone network, so they cannot be used to make phone calls. However, unlike cellular phones, they incur no "air time" charges for either speaking or listening.

You can use an FRS in the fifty United States and anywhere else regulated by the FCC. There are a few restrictions on its use in connection with emergency overrides and other federal regulations but these are typical of any radio communications equipment. FRS radios transmit signals at 1/2-watt power output, utilize a three kHz signal bandwidth (very adequate for clear voice communications) and provide automatic squelch control to reduce static and other unwanted RF noise. FRS radios transmit FM signals at 460 Mhz, which is in the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) portion of the radio spectrum.

FRS Channel Frequency Assignments:

Channel 1: 462.5625mhz
Channel 2: 462.5875mhz
Channel 3: 462.6125mhz
Channel 4: 462.6375mhz
Channel 5: 462.6625mhz
Channel 6: 462.6875mhz
Channel 7: 462.7125mhz
Channel 8: 467.5625mhz
Channel 9: 467.5875mhz
Channel 10: 467.6125mhz
Channel 11: 467.6375mhz
Channel 12: 467.6625mhz
Channel 13: 467.6875mhz
Channel 14: 467.7125mhz

Federal Communications Commission FRS Information

The Bethel Office of Emergency Management recommends the use of FRS Channel 1 for general calling, in the event of an emergency. Remember to turn off all special signaling tones, as described above. Once establishing contact, stations may then switch off to any one of the remaining thirteen channels for communicating, as needed.  Listeners with radio scanners may wish to program in any or all of the above frequencies for monitoring.

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