When we first announced Midland's 2008 FRS/GMRS radios, we found it interesting that most new models were offering "extra channels" as a feature. Previously it was an industry standard that all dual service (FRS/GMRS) radios supported 22 channels, each channel representing one of the 22 FRS and/or GMRS frequencies. If they were to remain consistent, the new channels would use different frequencies than existing channels. Only 22 frequencies have been approved by the FCC for FRS/GMRS usage, however, and those 22 frequencies are already represented.
So how do these new channels work? It turns out that these new channels are not channels in the sense that we have been historically used to (where a channel represents a frequency). These "extra channels" use a frequency already used by a standard channel, but have a pre-set privacy code that cannot be changed. This provides the illusion of a new channel, but has some side effects that could cause confusion. For example, if you transmit on Midland channel 24 a typical radio left in scan mode would receive your transmission as if it were sent on channel 3.
While these "extra channels" may make it a little easier for a novice to find an interference free channel, I feel like this is more marketing hype than anything else. A standard 22 channel Motorola or Cobra radio is 100% compatible with every channel of a 42 channel Midland GXT900 (cross reference chart below). Midland makes great radios and there are plenty of reasons to buy their products, but "extra channels" shouldn't be one of them.
The following is a cross reference chart that lists Midland's "extra channels" and the standard channel / privacy code that it matches up with. We have now updated the chart to show all 42 of these channels.
|Midland Channel||Frequency||Actual Channel||CTCSS||DCS||Code|
With some radios such as the Motorola Talkabout you will need to add 38 to the code listed above. (Example: For channel 32, the code would be 4 + 38 = 42)