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Monthly Archives: September 2008

  • MURS: Unlicensed VHF

    Motorola RDV2020 MURS RadioDo you need a high powered two way radio, but don't want to deal with the hassle of licensing? MURS may be the answer, particularly if you plan to use the radio outdoors where VHF frequencies are most effective.

    The Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) is a two-way radio service consisting of five frequencies in the VHF spectrum. Established by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the fall of 2000, MURS is a radio service allowing for "licensed by use" operation, meaning that a FFC issued license is not necessary to operate a MURS transmitter. The FCC formally defines MURS as "a private, two-way, short distance voice or data communications service for personal or business activities of the general public".

    There are some limitations to MURS: radio power is limited to 2 watts, MURS stations may not be connected to the public telephone network, radio repeaters are not permitted, and the highest point of any MURS antenna must not be more than 60 feet above the ground or 20 feet above the highest point of the structure on which it is mounted.

    Since MURS exists within the VHF spectrum, it has the potential to become very popular among the traveling community and outdoor enthusiasts. VHF characteristics are ideal for short-distance ground communication, with a range generally somewhat farther than line-of-sight. Although there are limitations on transmitter power output and antenna height, there are no restrictions on the use of external antennas. The range for vehicle-to-vehicle communications with MURS can be much greater than that for the Family Radio Service (FRS). Outdoor activities are benefited by the increased range over the FRS, allowing for base camps to utilize antennas to stay in contact with campers and emergency personnel.

    MURS operation is authorized anywhere a CB station is authorized.

    • Within or over any area of the world where radio service are regulated by the FCC
    • Any other area of the world, except within the territorial limits of areas where radio services are regulated by either an agency of the United States other than the FCC or any foreign government (Subject to either parties rules)
    • Aboard any vessel of the United States, with the permission of the captain, while the vessel is traveling either domestically or in international waters

    MURS operation is not authorized aboard aircraft in flight.

    MURS stations may transmit voice or data signal as permitted in FCC regulation Section 95.631.

    Determined quickly whether a radio is legal to use on MURS:

    • If the radio is Part 95 certified and operates on MURS frequencies
    • If the radio was Part 95 certified prior to November 12, 2002 and transmits no more than 2 watts, and has no external control to increase power above 2 watts and only operates wideband on the 154 MHz frequencies (all parts must be true)
    • If the Radio was Part 90 certified prior to November 12, 2002 and transmits no more than 2 watts and has no external control to increate power above 2 watts and does not narrowband on the 151 MHz and 154 MHz frequencies or narrowband on 151 MHz and wideband on 154 MHz frequencies (all parts must be true)

    The following are the frequencies authorized for use by the MURS:

    FrequencyAuthorized Bandwidth
    151.820 MHz11.25 kHz
    151.880 MHz11.25 kHz
    151.940 MHz11.25 kHz
    154.570 MHz (also part of business band)20.00 kHz
    154.600 MHz (also part of business band)20.00 kHz

    Click here for a list of radios that we currently offer supporting the MURS frequencies.

    Related Resources
    Looking for a MURS Compatible Radio?
    MURS Capable Two Way Radios
    Motorola Releases Two New MURS Radios
    The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-11 - All About MURS

  • Radio Compatibility: Which Models Will Work Together

    One of the questions that we are asked frequently is if a new two way radio that a customer is considering purchasing will be compatible with older radios that they already have. This compatibility question is best answered based on the type of radio (consumer vs. business), as the answer is very different.

    Consumer Radios
    Midland GXT2000 Two Way RadioConsumer radios operate on a standard set of frequencies, either the GMRS or FRS services or a combination of both. Most newer consumer radios are "dual service" radios that support both FRS and GMRS. These radios will typically have 22 channels. Older consumer radios may only have 14 channels, operating only on FRS.

    Regardless, all of these radios that support FRS and/or GMRS use the same frequencies and are compatible with one another. Simply set all radios to the same channel number and privacy code, and you will be able to communicate. Popular manufacturers of consumer radios are Audiovox, Cobra, Garmin, Midland, Motorola (Talkabout series), and Uniden. Kenwood used to make GMRS models (the TK3101 and TK3131, for example), but have moved away from consumer radios and no longer produce them.

    Business Radios
    Kenwood TK-3402 Two Way RadioCompatibility is not nearly as straightforward when it comes to business radios. First of all, there are several types of frequencies that business radios are made to support: VHF, UHF, and 800/900 Mhz frequencies, for example. The first step in finding a compatible radio is choosing a model that supports the same frequency type as your existing radios.

    These frequency types refer to an entire range of actual frequencies, and just choosing the same frequency type does not guarantee compatibility. If you purchased your existing radios from a true two way radio dealer, there is a possibility that the dealer could have programmed special custom frequencies into the radio. If this were the case, your radios may not be compatible with a new radio even if you purchased the exact same model.

    Usually most compatibility issues arise with 4 or 5 watt radios, which are much more likely to support custom programming. With one or two watt business radios, it is a little easier to ensure compatibility. The Motorola CLS series of radios and the two watt RDX series models will always be compatible, and two watt Kenwood radios that are marked with a ProTalk label will always be compatible, provided you purchase the same model.

    If you have any questions or concerns about business radio compatibility, the easiest option is to simply contact us and we can recommend a compatible solution. For older radios or radios that could have been custom programmed, we may ask that you send in the radio so that we can read the actual frequencies from the radio before making a recommendation.

    Related Resources
    Looking for a MURS Compatible Radio?
    It's Official: Vertex Digital and Motorola TRBO Radios Now Compatible
    The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-07 - Comparing Small Business Radios
    Radio 101 - The facts about GMRS two way radio compatibility

  • UHF or VHF: Which Is Right For You?

    UHF or VHF?Customers that are new to business radios are confronted a several confusing options, one of which is the type of frequency to choose: UHF or VHF. These abbreviations make no sense to most people and without some research it is easy to choose a radio that is not right for your situation.

    The quick answer is: choose VHF if you plan to only use the radios outdoors and in an area that is relatively free of obstructions, such as buildings. If you plan on using the radio indoors, both indoors and out, or outdoors but around buildings, choose UHF. UHF is the better all around signal and is by far the most popular, so if you are in doubt, choose UHF.

    UHF signals don't travel quite as far outdoors as VHF signals, but they do a better job of penetrating wood, steel, and concrete, giving you better range and performance in urban environments and around buildings. VHF signals travel farther, absent obstructions, and tend to "hug" the earth better, providing better performance outdoors or in hilly terrain.

    Related Resources
    Buyer's Guide - VHF Business Radios
    Buyer's Guide - UHF Business Radios
    Two Way Radio Basics
    MURS: Unlicensed VHF
    Radio Compatibility: Which Models Will Work Together
    The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-02 - An Introduction to Business Radios
    Radio 101 - The difference between UHF and VHF radios

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