Saturday, March 24, 2018

New FRS GMRS and CBRS rules

Back about eight years ago, the FCC attempted to rewrite some of 47 CFR Part 95.  One of the things they where trying to do was eliminate GMRS licensing, making the band license by rule. This was a response to so many FRS/GMRS combo packs sold at big box stores, as most people bought and used these radios, presumably without knowledge that they needed a license for it.  The FCC did make changes, but not to the extent they originally attempted.

Most of the changes effects FRS and GMRS.  However, some changes was made to CB radio (now called CBRS).  Subpart A is now general rules that cover all services, with service specific rules listed in their appropriate subpart.

Subpart B is still for FRS , but now has the following rules:

1) §95.531 (c) now allows FRS users to communicate with GMRS licensees;

      2)  §95.561 (c) now eliminate the policy of authorizing radios that are designed to be used in two or more services;

      3)  §95.567 has changed to allow a full 2 watts (ERP) on channels 1-7 and 15-22, but retains the half watt for channels 8-14.

      4)  §95.591 will make (September 30, 2019) the sell and offer to sell any radio which can operate in both FRS and another service.  This seems like an add on to §95.561 (c), but timed to get rid of old stock.

Subpart E is now for GMRS, and has some rule changes as well:

      1)  §95.1731 Allows GMRS licensees to communicate with FRS users;

      2)  §95.1763 Gives GMRS a total of 30 channels, and are divided up as so;

           a) frequencies 462.5500, 462.5750, 462.6000, 462.6250, 462.6500, 462.6750, 462.7000, and 462.7250 MHz are for simplex full power GMRS use, or for repeater output.

           b) frequencies 462.5625, 462.5875, 462.6125, 462.6375, 462.6625, 462.6875, and 462.7125 MHz can be utilized by hand-held, mobile and base stations.

           c) frequencies 467.5500, 467.5750, 467.6000, 467.6250, 467.6500, 467.6750, 467.7000, and 467.7250 MHz are used as repeater inputs.

           d) frequencies 467.5675, 467.5875, 467.6125, 467.6375, 467.6625, 467.6875, and 467.7125 MHz are limited to hand-held operation only.  These are the original channel 8-14 of FRS radios.

       3)  §95.1767 defines how much power a transmitter may transmit with, measured in either transmitter power output (TPO) or Effective Radiated Power (ERP);

            a) The frequencies 462.5500, 462.5750, 462.6000, 462.6250, 462.6500, 462.6750, 462.7000, and 462.7250 MHz and 467.5500, 467.5750, 467.6000, 467.6250, 467.6500, 467.6750, 467.7000, and 467.7250 MHz can use a full 50 watts of TPO for mobile, repeater and base stations.  Fixed stations cannot exceed 15 watts ERP, though.

            b) The frequencies 462.5625, 462.5875, 462.6125, 462.6375, 462.6625, 462.6875, and 462.7125 MHz are limited to 5 watts ERP, but can be utilized by hand-held portable, mobile and base stations.

            c) The frequencies 467.5675, 467.5875, 467.6125, 467.6375, 467.6625, 467.6875, and 467.7125 MHz are limited to half a watt ERP, and can only be utilized by devices that are configured to prevent increasing the ERP with high gain antennas (read mostly hand-held portables).

       4)  §95.1791 will make (September 30, 2019) the sell and offer to sell any radio which can operate in both GMRS and another service.  This seems like an add on to Subpart B §95.561 (c), but timed to get rid of old stock.

As far as CBRS (Subpart C) the only change was the absence of the 155 mile limit to contacts.

As far as the fallout from the FRS and GMRS rule changes, we have yet to see any negative impacts.

Thanks for reading this half-baked entry.

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