GMRS versus FRS

Walkie talkies aren’t just devices used by the military and the police. They’re also handy for:

  • Relaying an emergency message when you’re trekking through the remote outdoors
  • Overseeing a crew during a large scale operation such as setting up a carnival or coordinating everything in a film production set
  • Checking in on your baby from a long distance…etc.

If you’re thinking about buying a walkie talkie, then you need to figure out which of the two types are right for you: FRS or GMRS. The former is more suited for personal use while the latter is better for commercial operations. In this article, we will delve into more detail about each type.


FRS or Family Radio Service frequencies are mainly used for short-distance transmissions between friends and family. So if you’re doing things like pulling a prank on a friend or taking part in a group hiking trip, then you would use FRS channels on your walkie talkie. 

If you want to get technical, FRS frequencies range between 462 to 467 megahertz. This range was actually suggested by RadioShack to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) back in the early 1990s. Prior to that, there was too much competition in lower frequency ranges (which walkie talkies operated on) from a variety of radio devices. So walkie talkie users would have to deal with all kinds of interference.

Nowadays, thanks to the strictly defined range for recreational walkie talkie use, you don’t have to worry about picking up interference from your favourite pop radio stations or telephone conversations. Can you imagine how irritating that would be?

In addition, you can now use privacy codes to further keep your transmissions clear of any interference. Privacy codes are basically filters which tell your walkie talkie to stick to a certain frequency. Once all the members of your party have the same privacy code configured into their walkie talkies, each one will be able to tune in to the exact channel and maintain crystal clear communication. This can be beneficial when FRS frequencies become too crowded due to emergency situations. 

Another great thing about FRS frequencies is that you don’t require a license from the FCC to use them. 


GMRS or General Mobile Radio Service frequencies are used for long-distance commercial transmissions. While GMRS walkie talkies technically use frequencies that exist within the same band as FRS ones (462-467 MHz), the former has access to ‘exclusive’ channels while the latter doesn’t.

You will need a license from the FCC in order to use these channels, although both airlines and government organization are exempt from this requirement. These licenses typically cost around $70 and are valid for 10 years from the date of issue. However, if you violate FCC regulations on GMRS frequencies, you may end up paying tens of thousands in fines!

The fact that these channels are licensed and regulated makes interference very unlikely. That’s why they are more suited for commercial use. In addition, these GMRS walkie talkies are very powerful. Unlike FRS walkie talkies, you could modify a GMRS device to amplify its range. Moreover, the latter also has clearer audio quality, although not by a huge margin. If clarity is a huge concern for you, then GMRS walkie talkies may be what you need. 

GMRS versus FRS – Conclusion

It’s good to know about both types of walkie talkies so that you can determine which one is right for you. If you only require communication at close proximity with friends and family, then FRS walkie talkies will meet your needs. However, if you need to manage commercial operations, require pristine transmissions without any interference at all, then GMRS walkie talkies are more appropriate. 

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