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Using A Business Radio For GMRS

It's no big secret that most two way radios that are built specifically for the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) are not of the same quality as typical business radios. There's a good reason for this. Most people who are shopping for GMRS radios need a radio for occasional use, such as a camping trip, and simply prefer a lower priced radio that will get the job done. Occasionally, however, we have customers that need a business quality radio for use on GMRS.

Who Needs A Business Quality Radio For GMRS
These customers typically use their radios often - not just for an occasional hike with the family. They are sometimes looking to become members of a local radio or repeater club, or are radio enthusiasts in general. Perhaps they've purchased "bubble pack" GMRS radios (as typical 2-pack consumer grade radios are sometimes called) in the past and are just looking for better range, better audio quality, or more durability.

There is a reason that business quality radios sell for 6-10 times more than consumer grade radios - they're better. Whatever the reason, we often hear from a potential customer who is looking for a high quality GMRS radio.

Business Radios That Work On GMRS
Most all programmable UHF business radios can be setup to work on the GMRS. This includes practically all 4 and 5 watt business radios that we sell, including models by Icom, Kenwood, Motorola, Olympia, and Vertex Standard. Business radios that are two watts and less typically wouldn't work, as they have a built-in list of frequencies that do not include GMRS.

Is It Legal To Use A Business Radio For GMRS?
It is not entirely clear if it is legal to use a business radio for GMRS. Business radios that would be programmable to GMRS are going to be Part 90 type accepted (certified). This basically means that the FCC has found them to conform to the "Part 90" rules, which relate to land mobile or business radios.

The rules that apply to GMRS are in Part 95, and this is what "bubble pack" radios are type accepted for. While it is possible for business radio manufacturers to have their Part 90 radios also type accepted for Part 95, most do not. (Kenwood is the exception here and the TK3302 and TK3230 are certified for parts 90 and 95.)

The following is the specific section of the law that applies to GMRS equipment:

§ 95.129 Station equipment.
Every station in a GMRS system must use transmitters the FCC has certificated for use in the GMRS. Write to any FCC Field Office to find out if a particular transmitter has been certificated for the GMRS. All station equipment in a GMRS system must comply with the technical rules in part 95.

Many interpret that last sentence (our emphasis) to mean that as long as the radio is technically compliant with part 95, it is OK to use even if it wasn't specifically type accepted for it. Under this interpretation, Part 90 accepted UHF business radios would be allowed. (One caveat is scrambling. Some business radios support it but it cannot legally be used on GMRS.)

We Will Sell Business Radios For GMRS
We have never been made aware of anyone having a legal issue using a Part 90 radio for GMRS, and we will program a business radio for GMRS at a customer's request. Please understand, however, that the operator of the radio is ultimately responsible for using the device in compliance with the FCC regulations.

For an in-depth discussion on this topic, listen to The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-38 - Using Business Radios on the GMRS.

8 thoughts on “Using A Business Radio For GMRS”

  • Steve

    The so called bubble pack radios I have heard from hundreds of post's are junk, and unreliable little kiddy toys! They chew batteries up faster than the neighbors dog, and frequently fail to operate properly. Also on some of the post's. I have heard that the bubble pack toys, also don't have the range they claim they cover. That is a growing concern for me, because I am a new be who will be getting my GMRS license soon. I am going to want a radio that is going to serve me well, without conflicts of safety for myself and my girlfriend. I am not and I repeat " IM NOT GOING TO PUT TRUST INTO A CHEAP TOY FOR MY SAFETY" period! I would rather get a CB radio, and put trust in a serial killer to save my life than put any trust in a bubble pack toy! It's simply not worth it. When cell phones go down, how are we going to call for help with toys? If part 90 radios over pass part 95 compliant capabilitys, then I will trust a public safety or business type radio. The FCC needs to give approval for part 90 if it meets or exceeds part 95. It's only fair for part 95. There are only a few part 95 radios out there to purchase for gmrs. There are hundreds, and I mean hundreds of part 90 radios that are used every day. So why not part 95? Gmrs is dead quiet in the Detroit area because, no one wants to spend $70.00 for a 10 year license just to rely on a toy that will not do the job. It makes no sense to me at all.

    Reply
  • Bob

    You are clearly mistaken - you cannot rely on the last sentence alone - you must read all the sentences in the statue together, not as individual statements - and reading ALL the sentences in the statute, you see the first statement says you MUST use a Part 95 approved set - and the last sentence says all sets must comply with the technical rules. That means you cannot use one main GMRS approved set, and grandfather other sets in to the mix. They must ALL be Part 95 type certified for GMRS use.

    The article is clearly wrong. Read all sentences as a whole and it becomes painfully clear. (went to law school, I know something about this sort of thing... um... 25 years in practice in municipal and public service law ... um ... just saying.) Bob

    Reply
  • fred

    (c) No GMRS transmitter will be certified for use in the GMRS if it is equipped with a frequency capability not listed in §95.1763, unless such transmitter is also certified for use in another radio service for which the frequency is authorized and for which certification is also required. No GMRS transmitter will be certified for use in the GMRS if it is equipped with the capabilities to operate in services that do not require equipment certification, such as the Amateur Radio Service. All frequency determining circuitry (including crystals) and programming controls in each GMRS transmitter must be internal to the transmitter and must not be accessible from the exterior of the transmitter operating panel or from the exterior of the transmitter enclosure

    Reply
  • Tom

    Dear Sir or Madam,
    What would be a good business radio with 4-5W of power with ability to add privacy codes for FRS/GMRS frequencies? I would like to have all 22 channels of FRS/GMRS programmed if possible.
    Thanks for your time.

    Reply
  • Alex

    I disagree with the statement that "It is not entirely clear if it is legal to use a business radio for GMRS". The regulation clearly state that the radio needs to be part 95 approved to be used on GMRS.
    I'm in U.S. and I have contacted FCC with exact this question - whether it is permissible to use Part 90 approved radio with GMRS since as you mention above most part 90 radios will satisfy technical requirements for spurious emissions, harmonics, bandwidth etc.
    The answer was explicit NO: "Only equipment that is type certified and in compliance with the same FCC Rule Part 95 may be used in conjunction with GMRS equipment."
    Essentially unless your equipment is excplicitly certified for par 95 and GMRS it is not legal to use it with GMRS service.

    Reply
  • I was not that aware about the GMRS and its usage. Thanks for posting this article. At least a bit I am clear of GMRS now. Recently I have installed a radio system at my automobile. I wonder if I can install GMRS in it even.

    Reply
  • When searching the FCC OET Equipment Authorization Search app, it seems tha many of the business class radios you sell are Part 95A certified. The system shows the grants given to a specific piece of equipment. Many of the radios I looked up show Part 95A listen in the granted authorizations.
    If people wanted to be sure their choice of radio was certified for their intended use, this search is a good way to find the specific grants given by the FCC, https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/eas/reports/GenericSearch.cfm

    Reply
  • Gary Lynch

    I have around 10 Kenwood ProTalk XLS TK-3230 radios I would like to have re-programmed to use only on GMRS and FRS frequencies.
    How much would it cost per radio to have this these re-programmed?
    Thank you for your assistance!
    Gary

    Reply

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