Family Radio Service
Photo courtesy of The Welland Tribune
On April 1, 2000, the Government of Canada authorized a new two-way radio service called Family Radio Devices. Modeled on the same service in existence in the United States, called Family Radio Service (FRS), this new radiocommunications service uses small, inexpensive, UHF handheld radios to provide efficient, licence-free, short-range radio communications for a variety of activities.
Initially conceived to provide communications for families and friends during recreational activities, the features of FRS radios combined with the few rules and regulations that control the service opens up the potential for FRS to expand beyond the "family service" parameter.
Potential users for FRS in Canada include: commercial establishments and businesses/corporations; manufacturing; government ministries and agencies; military; insurance companies; private investigators; security firms; organizations; and a host of others. FRS could be used on job sites, traffic control, event coordination, intelligence, surveillance, and delivery services. Some of the applications for FRS are: equipment coordination; personnel direction; safety and security; municipal or utility work crews; special events; fairs; carnivals; parades; small-area delivery; personal security, and much more.
Click below for the link that pertains to your current or potential interest and involvement in the service:
FRS FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the distance I can talk? All FRS radios are limited to 0.5 watts of output power from the antenna. You can expect a relative maximum of about 2 miles, or 3.2 kilometers, over open water. The more material there is between radios, the shorter the distance the signals will travel. For car-to-car use, or in the downtown core of a city, you can expect a maximum range of about two to three city blocks.
How big are the radios? Most FRS radios are no bigger than your hand, and even with the small antenna, can easily fit in your pocket or purse. They weigh very little and are totally portable. You can wear it on your belt and it will feel like it's not there.
What frequencies does FRS operate on? FRS is assigned frequencies in the 462/467 MHz UHF bands, and is channelized as follows:
What features do FRS radios have? Paging, vibration, multi-scan, voice encryption, weather and/or GPS reception, are just some of the features that an FRS radio can have.
Is FRS like CB? Yes and no. It is the sense that it is a short-range communications system for the general public. However, unlike CB, the signals are on UHF, have a shorter range, and better quality of signal. However, FRS in not the "social" system that CB is. You can't simply just talk to anyone on FRS, like you can on CB.
Do I need a licence to operate FRS? You do not need a licence to purchase or operate FRS. It is a licence exempt service.
Are there any restrictions on FRS? You may not put an external antenna on the radio. You may not use an active repeater system to retransmit the signal. You may not connect the radio up to the phone lines. You can't swear, whistle, play music, or use your FRS radio for any illegal purpose or to assist you in any illegal activity. You must operate your radio in accordance with all aspects of the Radiocommunications Act. Other than these restrictions (which on whole are rather little and mostly common sense) you can use FRS for whatever you want.
How many radios do I need? To use the FRS service you need at least 2 radios.
Are FRS radios toys? Absolutely not! These radio are sophisticated communications devices. Unlike CB and those 49 MHz walkie talkies, FRS radios are actual commercial grade radiocommunications devices.
What does voice privacy, scrambled, and encrypted mean? Basically, these terms signify the way the radio makes your voice unintelligible to the casual listener.
How many batteries does an FRS radio use? Most FRS radios use two to four AA or AAA batteries.
I own a pizza parlour. Can I use FRS for delivery dispatching? If you are only dispatching within a two to four block radius, then FRS may work for you. However, any further distance than that and you will have to go to a licenced system.
How much do FRS radios cost? In Canada, you can find FRS radios retailing from about $50 to $200 depending on features.
Are there airtime or other monthly fees for FRS? No. Once you buy the radio, the only additional costs are batteries. There are no airtime or licencing fees for the service or the radios.
How long do the batteries last in FRS radios? You can expect at least three to four hours worth of use from regular nickel cadmium cells or packs
Do I have to buy two of the same brand and model of radio, can I use two or three different makes? Are they compatible? All FRS radios are exactly the same in their basic design in that every one is limited to 500Mw of output power and can talk on at least one to all of the fourteen FRS frequencies available. However,
Do you have a question in regard to the Family Radio Service? If so, just click here to send an email and we will endeavour to answer your question on this page.