I bought a set of FRS radios (they used to be called walkie talkies) yesterday. I ended up buying BellSouth Communicator 2260’s, which has 14 channels of FRS as well as 8 GMRS channels. The catch is that the FCC requires you to obtain a license in order to transmit in GMRS.
Why do I know this? Mostly because I read the little tiny writing on the back of the box, and also checked out the documentation that came with the units. I can assure you that the casual user probably would have done neither, choosing instead to rip the packaging open and start transmitting on all 22 channels. Which is illegal.
I will admit that BellSouth probably does the bare minimum required to inform users that they need a license in order to transmit on channels 15 to 22. It was on the back of the packaging (somewhere near the bar code I think) and in at least 3 places in the paper documentation. I really think that something more visible should be required. A sticker on the back of the unit that you have to remove in order to put batteries in.
Here’s another ugly thing: FCC Form 605 is 27 pages long including instructions. Any bets on the percentage of people that own this GMRS device and operate on GMRS frequencies that bothered filling out Form 605? Did I mention that each license will cost you a $14.50 filing charge? Allow me to ask again what percentage of GMRS users will have taken this step. The probable number of users who are using handsets legally are beginning to approach zero.
I used the radios yesterday, but told my friends to make sure that we stayed within channels 1-14. I will probably end up sending in the paperwork for a GMRS license, more out of priciple than anything else.
Running into this makes me wonder how many products there are out there that similarly require you to obtain a license, but assume that you will operate without one.