Well, the wait is over. It's finally about to happen. Part 95 reform will officially become effective September 2017.
Earlier this year we reported on a final consideration by the FCC to completely reform the Part 95 rules on Personal Radio Services. The decision passed unanimously during the FCC's monthly open commission meeting May 18th, and upon its passage, many of the publications incorporated in the new rules were to take effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
The question was, when would it be published?
We discussed this in episode 113 of the Two Way Radio Show Podcast, and as promised, we continued to follow up on it since. We've been keeping tabs on it throughout the summer, checking the Federal Register daily for any indication of any notice of a publication online.
Now it's here. Personal Radio Service Reform was published in the Federal Register this morning, August 29, 2017. As many of these rules become effective 30 days after publication, this means those rules will become official on September 28.
As stated in the Federal Register, "Effective September 28, 2017. The incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in the rule is approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of September 28, 2017."
What does this mean for users of two way radios on the Personal Radio Services? A lot. For one, it's a big win for users of lower power FRS/GMRS radios, particularly the millions who do not have a GMRS license and were previously using those radios "illegally". Now, users of consumer FRS/GMRS radios or walkie talkies operating at 2 watts or less are licensed by rule, meaning that these radios can be used without applying for or purchasing a license to use them. In effect, Anyone can purchase one of these radios and use it legally.
This is a big win for consumers who rely on these radios for personal, business and recreational activities These radios are now considered FRS only, and they can essentially be used by anyone in the US who needs or wants one.
This is also a win for licensed GMRS users, who have long complained about the illegal use and interference by unlicensed users of low powered combo FRS/GMRS or "bubble pack" radios on GMRS channels and repeaters. The new rules provide them with more exclusivity on the GMRS and a more serious attempt by the FCC to prevent the GMRS from degenerating into a service many feared would become "the next CB".
There are many changes intended to benefit other Personal Radio Services as well, including CB. Read this summary of key changes to Part 95 for details.