If you have watched the movie “Insidious 2” in 2013, you might have seen siblings Dalton and Foster playing a toy telephone made of two empty cans connected together by a long string, which could pass as a walkie-talkie. The main idea is you can communicate through it but only to a certain extent or distance as far as the string can reach. That is basically how two-way radio works.
The General Mobile Radio Service or GMRS is a land-mobile radio service that is primarily used for two-way, short-distance communication. Although in some parts of the world, GMRS compatible devices can be used even without a license, but in the United States, it is a must.
But this license is not for everyone’s use. In fact, only the individual with a valid GMRS license and his or her immediate family members are the ones allowed to use it, whether to communicate personally or for business purposes. Employees who are not family members do not have the same privilege.
How much is the GMRS license fee? Don’t worry. It doesn’t cost much considering the length of its validity.
Average Cost of GMRS License
The GMRS license fee that is valid for five years costs $70. The new GMRS licenses are given to individuals only but previously, they are also being given to businesses. If you happen to have availed the license prior to July 31, 1987, you are still allowed to renew your license, provided that you have met certain conditions set by the regulating body, such as not modifying anything from the existing license.
Previously, FCC required a regulatory fee on top of the cost of GMRS license before you could get or obtain a GMRS license. But effective in 2015, the FCC had issued an order that eliminates the regulatory fee for GMRS license applications.
People often are confused between a two-way radio and a walkie-talkie. In a strict sense, they can possibly be the same. Only that, the walkie-talkie can sometimes connote informal communication. Also, the two-way radio could be regarded as the higher form or upgraded version and utilizes much higher frequency than the regular walkie-talkie. The major difference is the GMRS license fee since walkie-talkie usually does not need a license.
So if you are considering applying for a GMRS license, you may want to consider buying a new set of device as well. You can choose from a variety of two-way radios online like Amazon with the cost ranging from $59.99 to $189.99 depending on the brands. Consider the amount an additional to the cost of GMRS license.
But when shopping for these devices, you must follow some considerations to guide you in choosing what is right for you. Some of these are:
- You will have no major problem if you are located in a flat or even terrain, or a place where there are no obstructions because you can most likely maximize the range that these devices purport to cover. So if your place is nowhere near fitting the description, buy a device with longer antenna, or ask if it can be extended with an aftermarket one.
- If you live in a place or you will use the device in a place that more people use walkie-talkie, consider buying the ones with more privacy channel options.
- Depending on the need, you may want to purchase a radio with some nice add-on features like VOX, power options, long battery life, has out-of-range alert, has digital compass, and is also lightweight and compact. This is especially important when you intend to use it for hiking, backpacking, or hunting.
Where to Get GMRS License
Any individual 18 years old and above and is not in any way connected to or representative of any foreign government agencies may apply for a GMRS license by completing the necessary requirements.
In the USA, the Federal Communication Commission is the regulating body responsible for managing and licensing the frequencies, and electromagnetic spectrum that is being used in all the states and territories of the US, whether commercially or non-commercially through the use of various devices such as radios, televisions, satellites, and cables. The general idea is to promote efficiency and reliability through the use of the spectrum for public safety and emergency response.
The FCC requires that any individual operating a device like a two-way radio on the GMRS should get a license from FCC before it could use its frequency and repeaters.
GMRS license application is available online. Before you can apply for a GMRS license, you would need to get an FRN number. You may get it and apply at FCC.gov and choose among the menu buttons the one that is applicable to you.
You may also apply through the FCC offices by filing the FCC form 605.
Who Uses GMRS?
Since time immemorial, two-way radios and walkie-talkies were being used by many industries especially during the times when mobile phones are scarce and not to mention, the calls are so expensive. But up to this day, many of these industries still use them, namely:
- Construction companies
- Security services
- Oil and gas companies
- Utility companies like telephone, cable TV, electricity, water, etc.
- Hospitality industries such as hotels, restaurants, resorts among others
- Emergency response team, like fire station
- Military and intelligence agencies
- Government agencies
- Service industry such as logistics and towing companies
- Transport service like taxis
- Consumer two-way radios usually work or use two types of frequencies, namely the FRS and GMRS. The FRS or the Family Radio Service is a two-way, very short distance means of communication and you typically do not need a license to use that kind of frequency so long as your radio unit does not transmit more than 0.5 watts of power.
- A GMRS system is typically composed of station operators and two or more mobile stations. Most often, station operators serve as repeaters.
- To be able to communicate through two-way radio, you must always press the push to talk button and release the same when you need to hear the speaker on the other end.
- Unlicensed radio operation for a device that is required to have a license is punishable by law. Either you get fined or you get imprisoned.
- Never ever transmit on designated radio frequencies without a license as it is prohibited by law and the FCC has its ways to track you down. So be mindful.