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FCC license to use walkie talkies?

  1. Nov 24, 2003 #1
    Anyone know anything about that rule that says you have to have an FCC license to use walkie talkies?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 24, 2003 #2
    I'm sure there must be some unlicensed bands you can use....
  4. Nov 24, 2003 #3
    I don't know any of the details, but it relates to power levels and what part of the freq spectrum you're using. Eg. very low power walkie talkies, sold in toy stores, are below the power levels required for licensing. Any ham radio operator could give you details regarding frequencies and power output.
  5. Nov 25, 2003 #4
    its says something about certain channels like FMRS or GMS
    When i look it up in the manual, pretty much all the good long distance channels are the ones i cant use, and i heard that they can trace you if you dont have a callsign or something like that.
  6. Nov 27, 2003 #5
    It is like this: There are essentially two types of walkie-talkies you are allowed to use without any specific kind of license: CB, which has been around for several decades. These frequencies are around 29 MHz, so theoretically you could under certain not too infrequent conditions use them to communicate over great distances, but the FCC explicitly prohibits such activities: You are not ALLOWED to use CB to communicate over a distance of more than 150 miles. Since there is also a restriction on the power any CB radio is allowed to put out, in most cases it will be physically impossible to use CB over a distance of more than 50 or 100 miles.

    The other type of "license-free" walkie talkies are the newer UHF ones called FRS or something like that. I don't know the exact acronyms, but I believe it stands for Family Radio Services or General something... If I am not mistaken, these use frequencies around 455 MHz and no more than 0.5 watts, which limits their range to no more than a couple of miles under virtually all conditions.

    GMRS is General Mobile Radio Service, and as far as I know it requires an FCC license, which is about $75, but no test. I think they use certain frequencies around 460 MHz.

    Marine VHF radios also require an FCC license, but no test.

    Then there is Ham Radio, also called Amateur Radio. For these radios you need an FCC license, which is free, but you have to take a little multiple choice test, and I believe the test costs $12 or $14. Depending on what class of amateur license you go for (if you are a physics major you should have no difficulty getting the highest class, called Amateur Extra in the US), you are allowed to use certain (quite large) frequency ranges all over the spectrum. I believe there are some long wave bands, there are definitely the 160 meter, 80m, 40m, 30m, 20m, 18m, 15m, 12m, 10m, 6m, 2m, 1.25m, 70cm, 33cm, and 23cm bands, plus a lot of available space if you want to go even higher. For those frequencies, you will probably have to build your own equipment, which by the way you are allowed to if you hold any class amateur license.

    Anyway, if you want a radio that goes farther than a few miles, you either have to pay for some sort of a commercial license or become a ham. But of course, ham radio may not be used for commercial purposes, I believe the rule says you are not allowed to have any financial interest in any communication carried out over ham radio (with certain reasonable exceptions).
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2003
  7. Nov 29, 2003 #6
    So they'd bust you even if its just casual conversation?
  8. Nov 29, 2003 #7


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    Staff Emeritus
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    I don't think they are much concerned with the content, it is the simple fact that you are broadcasting that matters.
  9. Nov 29, 2003 #8
    corrrect me if I'm wrong, but I believe 5 watts is the maximum power rating allow for a handheld.
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