FCC Rules for the
Family Radio Service

Revised March 9, 2003

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On February 10, 2003, the FCC released the Report and Order in WTB Docket 01-339. Those changes became effective April 2, 2003. This R&O modifies the FRS rules to permit location-reporting or location-requesting data transmissions, plus other brief text messages. The FCC intent is to retain FRS primarily for voice communications, but to permit brief data transmissions.

Click here to download a copy of the complete Report and Order, including its attachments and authorizing language of the changes adopted in the R&O.

You should note that data communications in FRS are permissible only from stations (specific radio models) authorized that data emission mode. The use of add-on devices is prohibited by an FRS station, unless that radio has been certified to attach to that particular device. (See FRS Rule 4(c), 95.104(c).)

In the R&O, the FCC specifically refers to this continuing prohibition. In other words, you may not add a keyboard or other device to an FRS radio unless that radio is certified for use with that specific device. What this means in practicality is that brief text messaging between FRS units will be permissible only for those FRS radios subsequently designed and certified for such operation.

Below are only those FRS Rules intended for station operators. You can also download a 23 KB, ZIP-compressed version (FRS-RO.ZIP) of a 78 KB straight ASCII file that contains the complete original FRS rules (including technical standards intended primarily for manufacturers, but exclusive of the changes adopted in WTB Docket 91-339), along with the full background on the standards (the FCC "Report") and a PRSG discussion of the politics involved in this docket, by clicking here: download hot button


User-Related FRS Rule Sections:

95.401 (CB Rule 1) What are the Citizens Band Radio Services? 95.191 (FRS Rule 1) Eligibility and responsibility. 95.192 (FRS Rule 2) Authorized locations. 95.193 (FRS Rule 3) Types of communications. 95.194 (FRS Rule 4) FRS units.

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Subpart D-Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS)

Current to February 16, 2003


95.401 (CB Rule 1) What are the Citizens Band Radio Services?

The Citizens Band Radio Services are:

(a) The Citizens Band (CB) Radio Service - a private, two-way, short- distance voice communications service for personal or business activities of the general public. The CB Radio Service may also be used for voice paging.

(b) The Family Radio Service (FRS) - a private, two-way, very short- distance voice and data communications service for facilitating family and group activities. The rules for this service are contained in Subpart B of this part.

PRSG Comments: Paragraph (b) was modified to add reference to data communications.

(c) The Low Power Radio Service (LPRS) - a private, short-distance communication service providing auditory assistance to persons with disabilities, persons who require language translation, and persons in educational settings, health care assistance to the ill, law enforcement tracking services in cooperation with law enforcement, and point-to-point network control communications for Automated Marine Telecommunications System (AMTS) coast stations licensed under Part 80 of this chapter. The rules for this service are listed under subpart G of this part. Two-way voice communications are prohibited.

(d) The Medical Implant Communications Service (MICS) - an ultra-low power radio service for the transmission of non-voice data for the purpose of facilitating diagnostic and/or therapeutic functions involving implanted medical devices. The rules for this service are contained in subpart I of this part.

(e) The Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (WMTS) - a private, short distance data communications service for the transmission of patient medical information to a central monitoring location in a hospital or other medical facility. Voice and video communications are prohibited. Waveforms such as electrocardiograms (ECGs) are not considered video. The rules for this service are contained in subpart H of this part.

(f) The Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) - a private, two-way, short- distance voice, data or image communications service for personal or business activities of the general public. The rules for this service are contained in subpart J of this part.

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Subpart B-Family Radio Service (FRS)

(Effective April 2, 2003.)

General Provisions 95.191 (FRS Rule 1) Eligibility and responsibility. (a) Unless you are a representative of a foreign government, you are authorized by this rule to operate an FCC certified FRS unit in accordance with the rules in this subpart. No license will be issued. (b) You are responsible for all communications that you make with the FRS unit. You must share each channel with other users. No channel is available for the private or exclusive use of any user.

PRSG Comments: There will be no changes in FRS Rule 1.

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95.192 (FRS Rule 2) Authorized locations. (a) Provided that you comply with these rules, you are authorized to operate an FRS unit: (1) Within or over any area of the world where radio services are regulated by the FCC; (this area includes the fifty United States and the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands (50 islets and cays), American Samoa (seven islands), the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam Island) or (2) Within or over any other area of the world, except within or over the territorial limits of areas where radio services are regulated by an agency of the United States other than the FCC or any foreign government (you are subject to its rules); or (3) Aboard any vessel or aircraft registered in the United States, with the permission of the captain, that is within or over any area of the world where radio services are regulated by the FCC or upon or over international waters; or (4) Aboard any unregistered vessel or aircraft owned or operated by a United States citizen or company that is within or over any area of the world where radio services are regulated by the FCC or upon or over international waters. (5) You must operate the FRS unit only according to any applicable treaty to which the United States is a party. The FCC will make public notice of any such conditions. (b) Your use of an FRS unit must not cause harmful interference to a FCC monitoring facility. Doing so could result in imposition of restrictions upon the operation of the FRS unit within 0.8 km (0.5 mile) of the facility by its Engineer-in-Charge. (Geographical coordinates of the facilities that require protection are listed in §0.121(c) of this chapter.) (c) The FCC may impose additional restrictions on a FRS station if the station is located at a point within the National Radio Quiet Zone (an area within the States of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia). The Zone is the area bounded by: (1) 39° 15' N. on the North; (2) 78° 30' W. on the East; (3) 37° 30' N. on the South; and (4) 80° 30' W. on the West.

PRSG Comments: There will be no changes in FRS Rule 2.

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95.193 (FRS Rule 3) Types of communications.

(a) You may use an FRS unit to conduct two-way voice communications with
    another person. You may use an FRS unit to transmit one-way voice or
    non-voice communications only to establish communications with another
    person, send an emergency message, provide traveler assistance, provide
    location information, transmit a brief test message, make a voice page,
    or to conduct a brief test.
PRSG Comments: Paragraph (a) was modified to permit the data transmission of location information or a brief text message.
(b) Non-voice communcations.

   (1) The FRS unit may transmit tones to make contact or to continue
       communications with a particular FRS unit. If the tone is audible
       (more than 300 Hertz), it must last no longer than 15 seconds at one
       time. If the tone is subaudible (300 Hertz or less), it may be
       transmitted continuously only while you are talking.

   (2) The FRS unit may transmit digital data containing location
       information, or requesting location information from one or more
       other FRS units, or containing a brief text message to another
       specific FRS unit. Digital data transmissions must be initiated
       by a manual action or command of a user, except that an FRS unit
       receiving an interrogation request may automatically respond with
       its location. Digital data transmissions shall not exceed one
       second, and shall be limited to no more than one digital
       transmission within a thirty-second period, except that an FRS
       unit may automatically respond to more than one interrogation
       request received within a thirty-second period.
PRSG Comments: Section 95.193(b) is now labeled "non-voice communication," and the prior paragraph (b) was designated subparagraph (1). A new subparagraph (2) was added to establish the parameters for digital non-voice communications.
(c) You must not use an FRS unit in connection with any activity which is
    against federal, state or local law.

(d) You must, at all times and on all channels, give priority to emergency
    communication messages concerning the immediate safety of life or the
    immediate protection of property.

(e) No FRS unit may be interconnected to the public switched network.

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95.194 (FRS Rule 4) FRS units.

(a) You may only use an FCC certified FRS unit. (You can identify an FCC
    certified FRS unit by the label placed on it by the manufacturer.)

(b) You must not make, or have made, any internal modification to an FRS
    unit. Any internal modification cancels the FCC certification and
    voids your authority to operate the unit in the FRS.

(c) You may not attach any antenna, power amplifier, or other apparatus to
    an FRS unit that has not been FCC certified as part of that FRS unit.
    There are no exceptions to this rule and attaching any such apparatus
    to a FRS unit cancels the FCC certification and voids everyone's
    authority to operate the unit in the FRS.

(d) FRS units are prohibited from transmitting data in a store-and-forward
    packet operations mode.
PRSG Comments: Subparagraph (d) was added to prohibit packet retransmissions.

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