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Information on Canada's General
Mobile Radio Service - GMRS
On April 1, 2000, the
Government of Canada authorized a new two-way radio service called
Family Radio Devices. Modeled on the same service in existence in the
United States, called Family Radio Service (FRS), this new radio
communications service used small, inexpensive, UHF handheld radios to
provide efficient, licence-free, short-range radio communications for
mostly family-oriented activities such as camping or hiking. On
September 7, 2004, Industry Canada launched the General Mobile Radio
Service (GMRS), also modeled on our southern neighbour's GMRS. It is the
same type of service as FRS, but the radios have a higher transmit power
and more channels, thus being more attractive to business users. Since
almost all GMRS radios today contain all the GMRS and FRS frequencies,
the services have basically merged into one, and any reference to GMRS
automatically includes FRS unless otherwise noted.
Initially conceived to provide
communications for families and friends during recreational activities,
the features of GMRS radios combined with the few rules and regulations
that control the service open up the potential for GMRS to expand beyond
the "family service" parameter. Now, you will find commercial
establishments and businesses/corporations, manufacturing; government
ministries and agencies, the military, private investigators, security
firms, and restaurants, hotels, and other establishments using GMRS
radios. Some applications of use include job sites, traffic control and
event coordination, intelligence and surveillance work, and customer
service. In fact, any time short distance communications is needed for
personal or business applications, GMRS is the perfect solution over
pagers, cell phones, and commercial two-way radios.
Read the first
chapter of my book "The Complete Guide to Canada's General Mobile Radio
for a glossary of GMRS terms.
General Mobile Radio Service
(GMRS) FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
the distance I can talk using GMRS radios? All GMRS radios are
limited to a maximum of 2 watts of output power from the antenna on GMRS
and shared GMRS/FRS frequencies. FRS only frequencies are limited to one
half watt (0.5 watts) of power from the antenna (see the frequency chart
below.) A GMRS UHF radio signal at two watts of output power can have a
range of about eight to ten kilometres over water. That range is reduced
when used in a rural and urban setting. On average, the indoor range can
cover approximately sixty thousand square meters (two hundred thousand
square feet), or about twenty floors of a building, and very easily the
average warehouse or job site. When used in a city setting, you can
usually get reliable communications from two to eight city blocks
depending on terrain and building architecture.
are GMRS radios? Most GMRS radios are no bigger than your hand,
and even with the small antenna, can easily fit in your pocket or purse.
They weigh very little and are totally portable. You can wear a GMRS
radio on your belt and it will feel like it's not there at all.
frequencies does GMRS operate on? Canada's General Mobile Radio
Service (GMRS) operates on assigned frequencies in the 462/467 MHz UHF
bands, and are channelized as follows (based upon channelization
settings for Cobra radios. Other radio manufactures may assign different
channels to the various frequencies. Power output shown is the maximum
for the frequency, and 2 watt channels may be switchable from 0.5 to 2
watts [Lo-Hi settings] depending on the manufacturer):
462.5625 MHz -
FRS/GMRS 2 Watts
467.6625 MHz - FRS 0.5
462.5875 MHz -
FRS/GMRS 2 Watts
467.6875 MHz - FRS 0.5
462.6125 MHz -
FRS/GMRS 2 Watts
467.7125 MHz - FRS 0.5
462.6375 MHz - FRS/GMRS
462.5500 MHz - GMRS 2
462.6625 MHz - FRS/GMRS
462.5750 MHz - GMRS 2
462.6875 MHz - FRS/GMRS
462.6000 MHz - GMRS 2
462.7125 MHz - FRS/GMRS
462.6250 MHz - GMRS 2
467.5625 MHz - FRS 0.5
462.6500 MHz - GMRS 2
467.5875 MHz - FRS 0.5
462.6750 MHz - GMRS 2
467.6125 MHz - FRS 0.5
462.7000 MHz - GMRS 2
467.6375 MHz - FRS 0.5
462.7250 MHz - GMRS 2
features do GMRS radios have? Tone and/or vibration paging,
multiple scan options, voice encryption, weather and/or GPS reception,
and voice operated transmit are just some of the features that a GMRS
radio can have.
like CB? No. Unlike CB, GMRS signals are on UHF, have a shorter
range, and better quality of signal. GMRS is not the "social" system
that CB is.
Do I need
a licence to operate a GMRS radio? No, you do not need a licence
to purchase or operate GMRS radios here in Canada. This is a
licence-exempt service with absolutely no fees or extra costs.
any restrictions on GMRS? Yes there are. You may not put an
external antenna on the GMRS radio. You may not use an active repeater
system to retransmit the signal. You may not connect the radio up to the
phone lines. You can't swear, whistle, play music, or use your GMRS
radio for any illegal purpose or to assist you in any illegal activity.
You must operate your GMRS radio in accordance with all aspects of the
Radio Communications Act. Other than these restrictions (which on whole
are mostly common sense) you can use GMRS for whatever you want.
GMRS radios do I need? To use the General Mobile Radio Service
(GMRS) you need at least two GMRS radios.
radios toys? Absolutely not! These radios are sophisticated
communications devices. Unlike CB and those 49 MHz walkie talkies, GMRS
radios are actual commercial-grade radio communications devices. Most of
the manufactures of GMRS equipment also make commercial and public
service two-way radio equipment.
voice privacy, scrambled, and encrypted mean? Basically, these
terms signify the way the radio makes your voice unintelligible to the
casual listener. Unlike so-called Privacy Tones, or CTCSS, which are
sub-audible tones that are transmitted along with your signal and only
open up the audio circuit of receiving radios that are set for the same
tone, voice privacy, scrambling, and encryption actually make your
signal unintelligible to other listeners who do not have the decrypting
circuits in their own radios. Few GMRS units have encryption or
scrambling capabilities but this could change over time.
batteries does a GMRS radio use? Most GMRS radios use two to four
AA or AAA batteries, and some even come with their own battery packs.
I own a
pizza parlour. Can I use GMRS for delivery dispatching? If you
are only dispatching within a two to four block radius, then GMRS may
work for you. However, any further distance than that and you will need
to go to a licensed system.
I work in
a large warehouse and we are constantly on the phone to several areas
and offices throughout the building. Would GMRS work for us? More
than likely, yes. Of course you would have to try the radios in
different locations to see just how wide of a communications area you
have. If your building is 60,000 square meters (200,000 square feet) or
under, then GMRS probably will be quite effective.
do GMRS radios cost? In Canada, you can find GMRS radios
retailing from about $20 to $200 depending on features and retailers.
airtime or other monthly fees for GMRS? No. Once you buy the GMRS
radios, the only additional costs are the batteries. There are no
airtime or licensing fees for the service or the radios.
do the batteries last in GMRS radios? You can expect around
twenty-four hours worth of use from regular alkaline batteries on most
GMRS units, and more from nickel-metal hydride batteries or battery
packs. This time varies between GMRS radio models and the addition and
use of battery-saving circuitry, coupled with the amount of transmit
time the radio endures.
Do I have
to buy two of the same brand and model of GMRS radio, or can I use two
or three different makes? Are they compatible? All GMRS radios
are exactly the same in their basic design of operation. However, to be
compatible for general use, all radios must be able to operate on the
same frequency. Some features of one make or model of radio may only be
compatible with other radios of the same make or model.
Do you have a question
in regard to Canada's General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)? If so, just
click here to send an
email and I will endeavour to answer your question on this page.
Entire contents © 1998 - 2018
Phillip J. Boucher