GMRS or General Mobile Radio Service

I run a GMRS repeater in Farmer City. Anyone within range is welcome to use it. It covers all of Farmer City and a little bit farther. I'm hoping to extend the range to reach Bellflower, Mansfield and LeRoy eventually. If you need help getting connected or just have questions feel free to contact me.

The General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) is a licensed radio service that uses channels around 462 MHz and 467 MHz. The most common use of GMRS channels is for short-distance, two-way voice communications using hand-held radios, mobile radios and repeater systems. In 2017, the FCC expanded GMRS to also allow short data messaging applications including text messaging and GPS location information.

GMRS has characteristics similar to the FRS radio service and uses frequencies in the same range. The advantage of GMRS is the ability to use higher power equipment and repeater systems for much more range than FRS. All UHF radios, despite claiming 35-50 mile range, have a typical range of 1 to 2 miles including GMRS. With GMRS you can use repeaters that will extend your range to closer to 20 miles. Since GMRS requires a license and isn't used as much as FRS it generally works better in congested areas. There are people using them without a license but I strongly discourage this as you can receive a fine from the FCC not to mention irritate a lot of people who have gotten the license.

GMRS does require a license, however unlike amateur radio there are no tests and the license is good for you and your immediate family for 10 years. The FCC definition of “immediate family” includes the licensee’s spouse, children, stepchildren, parents, stepparents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, and in-laws. You can obtain a license from the FCC here. I believe it's currently $70 and good for 10 years.

There are still rules that have to be followed and if you're going to use repeaters you need to identify with your FCC assigned call sign at the end of a conversation and every 15 minutes for longer conversations. The complete list of rules from the FCC can be found here.

For those interested in something better than FRS radio for personal use this is a great option. With a single license you and your entire family can use the system. Your family doesn't have to do anything but use the radios. There are a lot of options for cheap GMRS radios on the market including handheld and mobile units. Only some of these are capable of using repeaters so make sure you get the right one if you plan on using repeaters.