Personal radio service
A personal radio service is any system that allows individual to operate radio transmitters and receivers for personal purposes with minimal or no special license or individual authorization. Personal radio services exist around the world and typically use light-weight walkie talkie portable radios. The power output, antenna size, and technical characteristics of the equipment are set by regulations in each country.
Because radio spectrum allocation varies around the world, a personal radio service device may not be usable outside its original area of purchase. For example, US-specification Family Radio Service radios operate on frequencies that in Europe are allocated to fire and emergency services. Operation of personal radio device that cause interference to other services may result in prosecution.
- 1 Operating characteristics
- 2 United States Family Radio Service
- 3 Using FRS frequencies
- 4 Using other UHF and VHF frequencies
- 5 Using HF frequencies
- 6 References
Specific details vary between the different national services, but many personal radio services operate in the UHF part of the radio spectrum, using frequency modulation and a maximum power of only a few watts. Operation is on predetermined channels. Unlike commercial business, marine, aviation, or emergency services radio, all users in an area share access to the available channels, requiring cooperation for effective communications. Unlike amateur radio, experimentation with different types of apparatus, and modes of modulation is not permitted, and equipment must be factory-built and approved.
These services are different from cellular mobile telephone systems in that no infrastructure (towers, base stations) is required; communications is point-to-point directly between users. However, this also means that communication range is usually limited to line-of-sight propagation, a few kilometres (miles) under the best of circumstances, and much less in heavily built up urban areas. Also unlike mobile telephones, operation is push-to-talk; a user must wait for the shared frequency to be clear before transmitting, and all stations on the frequency may hear the transmission. Since both stations are on the same frequency, the receiving station cannot interrupt the transmitter until it has finished. Generally only voice transmission is allowed under personal radio service regulations, although tone and digital selective calling features are allowed in some countries, and some services permit digital data transmission.
United States Family Radio Service
In the United States, the Family Radio Service was authorized starting in 1996. It uses half-watt hand-held FM UHF radios with 14 fixed channels.
Using FRS frequencies
American-standard FRS radios have been approved for use in Canada since April 2000. The revised technical standard RSS 210 has essentially the same technical requirements as in the United States. Since September 2004, low-power GMRS radios and dual-standard FRS/GMRS radios have also been approved for use in Canada, giving additional channels. In Canada, no license is required and no restrictions are imposed on the GMRS channels.
Since tourists often bring their FRS radios with them, and since trade between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico is of great value to all three countries, the Mexican Secretary of Communication and Transportation has authorized use of the FRS frequencies and equipment similar to that in the US. However, dual-mode FRS/GMRS equipment is not approved in Mexico, so caution should be exercised in operating hybrid FRS/GMRS devices purchased elsewhere.
Dual-mode GMRS/FRS equipment is also approved in Brazil and most other South American countries. Portable radios are heavily used in private communications, mainly by security staff in nightclubs and malls, but also in private parking, maintenance, and delivery services.
Using other UHF and VHF frequencies
Some manufacturers in Taiwan have radios that carry both FRS and GMRS frequencies, and have additional channels 1 to 99. Channels 1 to 14 are well-known, while channels 15 to 99 are less popular.
In Europe, PMR446 is a personal radio service with eight channels in the 446 MHz range. One cannot legally use the FRS radio in Europe or PMR446 in the U.S. The 446 MHz band is allocated to amateur radio in the United States. In Great Britain, FRS frequencies are used for fire brigade communications and this sometimes causes problems when FRS equipment is imported from the U.S. and used without awareness of the consequences by members of the public.
Sweden and Norway have a Short distance radio service with six UHF FM channels between 444.600 and 444.975 MHz. Some dual-mode KDR/PMR radios are sold but are only usable in Sweden and Norway.
European countries also have LPD devices operating in the 433 MHz band; these devices are restricted to 10 mW output power and are intended to provide an alternative to PMR 446 over short distances.
A personal radio service similar to the American-style FRS in Hong Kong, Macau, and China is also approved by respective organizations for legal "license free" operation, with the name of "Public Radio Service". However, different UHF frequencies with 20 allocated channels near 409 MHz are used. Sometimes this is also being referred as "Citizen Band" or CB in China, but not to be confused with the Citizens Band radio within the 27-MHz band. European, American, and Canadian residents are advised not to use FRS or PMR446 radios for communication when traveling to the aforementioned areas.
There is big number of FRS band radios, being used in China "illegally", started before the Chinese government opened the 409 MHz band to public. Legal action against such usage is rare, because of the low power and short range of FRS radios.
List of China Public Radio Service Channels:
In Japan, a similar service is limited to 10 milliwatts in the 420, 421, and 422 MHz bands.It is called "Tokutei Shoudenryoku Musen" ("SLPR:Specified Low Power Radio").
- 422.0500-422.1750 MHz (Business use) 10 mW 11ch 12.5 kHz spacing.
- 422.200-422.300 MHz (Leisure use) 10 mW 9 channels 12 kHz spacing.
Australia and New Zealand
In Australia and New Zealand, the UHF CB citizen's band near 477 MHz is used for a similar purpose. In New Zealand hand-held transceivers are "class licensed" and require no individual registration. Repeaters may be used, but these require individual station licences. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) also allocated a band near 434 MHz for low-powered devices with low potential for interference to other users of the band.
South Africa is in the process of conforming to ITC region 1 recommendations. They do allow 8 channels between 446.0-446.1 MHz band currently, this is the same as the European PMR446.
The Philippines has a radio service for use of families and small businesses. This service is called SRRS or Short Range Radio Service. Repeaters are not permitted, and units are limited to 2.5 watts.
This service has been allocated 40 channels at 325 MHz:
Thailand has an 80 channel CB-style service using FM between 245.000 and 245.9875 MHz. Units are allowed up to 5 watts RF power. Besides personal use, the equipment is used by search and rescue and businesses. Operating rules are less restrictive than amateur radio service, with an initial license fee required. The hand-held units usually have a red case. There are an estimated one million users of the service, often in large cities.
Since 3 February 2004, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has allocated the 446.0-446.1 MHz frequency band for low-powered walkie-talkies on a non-interference, non-protected and shared-use basis. As these walkie-talkies are low-powered devices which do not potentially cause interference to other licensed radio services, it need not be licensed for use in Singapore. However, the device must be type approved by IDA for local sale. 
Using HF frequencies
Citizens Band radio is a family of services available in different countries and with different operating rules, generally using channels in the 27 MHZ part of the radio spectrum. When first developed in the United States, CB operation required an individual license fee. After the surge in popularity in the mid 1970s, licensing was deprecated. Other countries provided legislation to allow use of similar frequencies and operating modes.
- http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf01320.html Industry Canada RSS-210 - Low-power Licence-exempt Radiocommunication Devices (All Frequency Bands) retrieved 2009 Oct 23
- http://web.archive.org/web/20091026203800/http://geocities.com/wd9ewk/xe-frs.html Mexico's Family Radio Service (FRS) equivalent retrieved 2009 Oct 23
- 我国公众无线电对讲机的频段 (Public Radio Services Frequency of China): http://www.fjit.gov.cn/htm/szdjj/20111221/1633490.html
- License free radio systems (in Japanese)
- http://www.rsm.govt.nz/cms/pdf-library/resource-library/publications/pib-20/pib20.pdf Personal Radio Service, Public Information Bulletin 20, retrieved 2011 07 28
- ACMA spectrum for 434 MHz LIPD devices
- http://r7.ntc.gov.ph/memopdf/fixedland/MC%2002-01-97%20.PDF MEMORANDUM CIRCULAR NO. 02-01-97 SUBJECT: LICENSING GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES FOR THE SHORT RANGE RADIO SERVICE (SRRS), retrieved 2009 Oct 23
- http://www.rast.or.th/tares.html Thailand amateur radio emergency services , retrieved 2009 10 24
- Wider Choice of Radio-Communication & Wireless Devices for Consumers and Total Annual Savings of $200,000 for Telecom Equipment Dealers: http://www.ida.gov.sg/News%20and%20Events/20050712103130.aspx?getPagetype=20