Walkie talkies are great for doing many things. You can add a touch of realism to the espionage scenes you play out with your kids or get weather alerts while you’re out on a hiking trip.
A lot of people think you need a license from the Federal Communications Commission in order to use a walkie talkie that isn’t made by a toy manufacturer. The truth is that it depends entirely on the type of channel you wish to tune into and whether it is FRS or GMRS.
FRS or Family Radio Service frequencies are what people tune their walkie talkies to if they want to communicate with friends and family. These frequencies (which range from 462 to 467 megahertz) are short-range and are therefore only suited for purposes like monitoring your sleeping newborn or maintaining contact with your hiking party. You don’t need a license to use FRS channels on a walkie talkie.
The biggest downside of using FRS channels is that they can sometimes become crowded, such as during a flood or the onset of a hurricane. You can, however, use privacy codes to limit the amount of interference you and your party experience on the specific channels you use.
GMRS or General Mobile Radio Service frequencies are used for commercial purposes. So, if you need to keep a large construction crew in order, for example, you would tune in to a GMRS channel. Unlike with an FRS walkie talkie, you need an official FCC license to operate a GMRS channel. You need to be over 18 years and pay a fee of around $70 in order to get one. However, airlines and government agencies are exempt from the license requirement.
If you’re caught using a GMRS channel without a license, you could end up paying a fine of $10,000 or more!
Walkie talkies are useful for many personal and commercial applications, and they operate on either FRS or GMRS frequencies. The former is free to use but you will need a license from the FCC to tune into a GMRS channel.