Walkie talkies can be used for both personal and professional use, but the two types are very different in a lot of ways. The most-common walkie talkies for personal use include the Family Radio Service (FRS) radios and the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) radios, and they share a total of 22 channels.
But not all channels can be used by both of these radios. In fact, FRS walkie talkies must use only channels 1 to 15, while GMRS walkie talkies can use channels 15 to 22. This is due to several reasons, but it is mostly because of certain FCC rules.
Is The FCC Rule That Important?
In case you’re wondering if you can use a channel that you’re technically not supposed to be using, the best piece of advice is this: don’t even try it! Why? Because of one simple reason – you can get fined up to $20,000, and that’s a lot of money regardless of who you are.
The FCC doesn’t spend every waking moment trying to catch walkie talkie users who try to use channels they’re not supposed to be using. They mostly rely on OOs, or official observers, who report back to them if they hear a lot of interference, which could be a sign that someone is trying to do this.
Unless a formal complaint is filed with the FCC, they usually won’t go after you. That being said, it is within their legal capacity to go after anyone who has a FRS walkie talkie and tries to use any channel above 15. In other words, why take a chance, especially when a $20,000 fine is possible?
What About Commercial Walkie Talkies?
Both FRS and GMRS walkie talkies are made for personal use, but the GMRS users need a license, which is part of the reason why they are allowed to use the upper channels and FRS users are not. If you have a walkie talkie for commercial use, you can decide how many channels you need before you buy it.
Many business walkie talkies have only one or two channels, while the average business radio has two to 16 channels. A few larger walkie talkies can have up to 256 channels, but most businesses will not need this many channels.
If you’re looking for a two-way radio system for your business, the best thing to do is discuss your needs with the salesperson. They’ll be able to recommend something that is neither too big nor too small. Keep in mind that few businesses need more than 16 channels.
The representative from the walkie talkie company can talk to you about the channels you need and which ones you are able to use. The laws and rules for using channels differ depending on whether the walkie talkie is going to be used for personal or commercial use.
Save Yourself a Lot of Grief
Walkie talkies for personal use have specific channels that you must use and specific ones to avoid. The GMRS radios require a license that costs just $70 but which lasts for 10 years. If you think you qualify to use the upper channels, you might as well go ahead and get a GMRS radio.
It’s easy to determine exactly which type of walkie talkie you need. If you’re going to be using the walkie talkie only occasionally, the FRS radio will do. But frequent use will likely require a GMRS radio, and for that you will need a license.
Walkie talkies for personal use – the FRS and GMRS radios – have a total of 22 channels between them. According to the FCC, the FRS radios can use channels up to number 15, whereas channels 15 to 22 are reserved for GMRS users. It’s always best to make sure you heed these rules in the end.