FCC Proposes major changes in GMRS and other Part95 rules/services

Here’s the FCC NPRM requesting comment and discussion of their proposed changes, which, among other things, propose to end the requirement for licensing in GMRS, LOWER the power allowed (to 2 watts for portables), potentially remove repeaters, firmly prohibit scrambling of any kind, and perhaps, prohibit use of radios dual/type accepted for part 90 and 95!


or, in doc form:


or, simple .txt:


I’m just getting into this arena, and from where I’m standing these changes look pretty big. I can’t help but think that the GMRS changes are to some degree a result of the bubble pack FRS/GMRS radios and folks not getting their licenses. The best way to correct this is to change the rules. Those that legally have GMRS are going to get the short end of the stick in regards to wattage limitations, etc.

If these changes actually come into play, I hope that there is a provision so that those who have a GMRS license can still use 5 watt portables, 50 watt max base stations and still have access to repeaters. The bubble packs, with few exceptions, cannot access the repeaters due to their inability to split frequencies and access to 467mhz frequencies. What’s next? -enough people using ham equipment without licenses and the FCC will abolish the ham ticket as well?..sure hope not…

As a ham radio operator, I’ve long been baffled by the cost of GMRS licenses. $85 for 5 years? Seriously? I mean, there can be no doubt why the vast majority of bubblepack buyers are pirates. My ham license was $10 and is good for 10 years. Now, I understand that it is legal to do business over GMRS, and perhaps that is the appeal (and reason for the outrageous licensing fees) but I can’t help but say that I will not be displeased if the FCC changes GMRS to a license by rule so that I can use the other half of my FRS/GMRS radios.
I read through the NPRM in its entirety, and I have to say that it is very well thought out and solid. The FCC argues that it is cost prohibitive to continue the licensing system, and specifically mentions the prevalence of bubblepack buyers not purchasing licenses. Also cited is reference to how CB radio once required an individual license.


There are some really good changes buried in the fine print. I like how they are taking a very dim view of “combination” radios that allow front-panel access to marine VHF frequencies. Marine frequencies are regulated and highly monitored, and should be. I never did like the idea of ‘bubble-pack’ marine radios.

Also, personal locater beacons (PLBs) are 406 MHz beacons that were originally designed to replace ELTs (emergency locater transmitters) for aircraft and were expanded for personal carry in remote areas. I think it’s a great idea. The old 121.5 MHz ELTs were pretty unreliable, and one had to be almost over a crash site to hear it … if it even went off. (I spent many hours in the rear bubble of an SAR Twin-Otter, and any SAR spotter will be glad to describe the unique brand of sea-sickness that results from the constant rolling yaw motion of this aircraft right at the tail.)

As good an idea as PLBs are, there are some less-than-ethical manufacturers who created what they call a “personal locater beacon” that transmits distress calls on FRS channels. This confuses consumers and makes them think they are buying a 406 MHZ PLB when, in fact, they’re not. The FCC proposes to eliminate any manufacturer from describing a product as a PLB when it is not the 406 MHz PLB. Good for them.

The other interesting thing is that the U.S. may follow in the direction of Canada if these proposed changes become law: GMRS is restricted to 2 watts of power and no licence is required.

I wonder if Jeff would comment on how the proposed rule changes would affect business-class radios that could be programmed to GMRS channels?

To me, there is a market - albeit, small - for industrial-grade business-class radios on unlicenced spectrums for people like myself who want well-made industrial grade radios. (That’s why I went with the DTR radios on the 900 MHz FHSS band.)

I think Danny might have more to say on all this later. We have been looking over the changes and like many of you there are things we like and things we do not. In truth, we do not sell that many commercial radios programmed to GMRS. Instead we would like to see the manufacturers make a high-grade consumer GMRS radio like Icom used to. The majority (99%) of people are interested in basic consumer models. For the most part, the only commercial grade radios we sell for GMRS use are to enthusiast such as yourselves. We do it because we understand your interest and want to support the GMRS radio community, but the demand is very low.

The proposed changes could drastically limit the number of commercial radios we will be able to program for GMRS use or eliminate the option entirely. There are a few two watt models, but…

We do not like a lot of the talk about changes to GMRS repeaters usage. Like many of you we understand there are some very valid reasons to leave that alone.

So we are taking a bit of a wait and see attitude to see what comes about. We do encourage all of you, especially repeater owners/users to let the FCC know your opinion.

With the proposed changes from the FCC, would it be a good or bad idea to get a GMRS two-way radio and license now? Just thinking out loud.
Thank you

I support the proposal. The FCC has filed to apprehend pirates. They have allowed commercial interests to over-rule the public interest.

The GMRS community has been given the opportunity to come together with many different organizations; yet chose not to support these groups.

Pirates flood the GMRS frequencies. Licensed users have encountered too many problems.

I do not recommend getting a GMRS license now. The FCC always wins, no matter the comments.

If the FCC stops licensing for the GMRS channels are those individuals with repeaters and 50 watt base and mobiles going to give up their equipment? And are the manufacturers going to eat all of the 5 watt portables that they have on shelves at the moment? It will turn the GMRS channels into what is currently on the 27mhz band- garbage. At least the amateur bands have a greater degree of civility (not perfect) but probably due to the amateur volunteers (not directly the FCC) who assist in regulating the airwaves. I don’t think that the FCC will be apprehending pirates, just abandoning the GMRS frequencies- like the CB band.

Repeater owners will be required to shut down their systems. The repeater input frequencies will be reassigned to land mobile.

GMRS already is essentially the same state as 27 mhz. 1 out of every 1000 users is licensed… Kids sending annoying call tones flood the frequeucies. The FCC is simply going to wash their hands of the whole thing.

Repeater owners will be required to shut down their systems. The repeater input frequencies will be reassigned to land mobile.

GMRS already is essentially the same state as 27 mhz. 1 out of every 1000 users is licensed… Kids sending annoying call tones flood the frequeucies. The FCC is simply going to wash their hands of the whole thing.

I am one of the “one in one thousand” who has a GMRS license- ham as well. I chose to become licensed as it seemed the right thing to do. I live a bit north of Boston and there doesn’t seem to be much activity on the GMRS channels…most of the kid chatter is actually on the FRS channels- thankfully. So I can’t say that GMRS is “garbage” at this point in time- at least where I live.
Occasionally I pick up ID’s from repeaters on GMRS channels but there are really none nearby- don’t really need them anyway. I can hit at least a half dozen repeaters on both 2 meter and 70 cm ham bands (even on 2 watts) from my residence.
When asking if the repeater people and those with high watt radios will give up their equipment in a previous post, I was actually inferring that some might and some might not- for the most part, repeater set-ups don’t come cheap- probably just stop broadcasting their station ID since no license will be needed.
It is my hope that enough repeater owners are made aware of the impending changes they will write to the FCC and express their concerns and work for a better resolution as to what has been presented thus far. I personally think that GMRS should be license-free, but I also believe that those who currently have repeaters be able to keep them as well…“grandfathered-in” so to speak.

Danny has written up the first part of our take on all of this. Our summary of the proposed changes is over on our two way radio blog.

Nicely written.

Honestly, I made a comment supporting the new rules. Ay comment actually wasn’t in the proper format, as required by the FCC protocols. I meant to file a “short comment” which is allowed, so my comment will probably be rejected. At any rate, I will not re-submit.

My reasons: The FCC has refused to enforce regulations, and the GMRS community has been aware of these pending rule changes for at least two years; but has refused to take a pro-active stance. Efforts to build a strong GMRS community have failed, fallen second to an “Every man for himself” attitude.

I acknowlege the confusion in rules… this alone is the fault of the FCC. Perhaps they are trying to correct their errors. I also acknowlege the fact that these “multi service radios” as well as scrambling were approved by the FCC. They easily could have not approved them. The FCC could be trying to cover up their own mistakes, at the expense of the licensees.

It is an issue… of great importance.

In all honesty, some points are very good. others are flawed.

I want what is best for everyone.


Part two is now up on our blog.

Again, done well. BTW… I NEEd to read the blog more often. There is a great deal of good information there.

Part three is now up. This is close to what we plan to submit as a response to the FCC.

Make SURE the official resonse is in EXACTLY the format the FCC requires in official responses! Most responses posted now, including mine, will be rejected, because they are not posted in the way they require… please, please, do the research!

Yeah, we have talked about this, how we have to organize and format our final draft very carefully. We have spent a bit of time on this so we want to submit it correctly. :slight_smile:

Sounds good :slight_smile: