FCC license for a walkie-talkie? Do I REALLY need one?

My wife just got 2 Motorola T4500 two way radios as a free gift from a book club she belongs to. As I was reading through the instruction manual I noticed it said the use of these devices would require a FCC license. Further reading of the manual says that some of the channels operate on GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) frequencies. Apparently this is why a licence is needed. The rest operate on FRS frequencies (whatever they are) which don’t require a license.

As a kid, my dad had a CB radio and he used it quite frequently. As far as I can remember he never had to get a license to use it. There are many people I know that have walkie-talkies and use them frequently for personal use, and they don’t have a FCC license either.

So my questions are:

  1. Why do I suddenly need a license just to operate a simple walkie-talkie.
  2. Do I REALLY need to get a license for this from the FCC or can I just use them when I need them (which will not be all that frequently, I can guarantee that) and not worry about it?
  3. What does an FCC GMRS license cost?

Everything you want to know It looks like you’ll want to just avoid the GMRS frequencies; this will save you the money, the headaches, and the constant looking-over-your-shoulder fear! :stuck_out_tongue:

On a tangent, at one time CB radios technically required a license. Then in the 70’s the CB craze swept the nation, and the FCC simplified the licensing process, then I think they just gave up altogether. I don’t think a license is required for CB anymore. But it used to be, and serious CB users used their call letters.

Yeah, the FCC is about the flakiest federal office that exists, in my opinion. To answer your questions:

  1. It’s not sudden. It’s just a recently regulated frequency (and power), so they figure they might as well charge. Why not?

  2. Short of being an ass on a regular basis from a fixed location, you probably stand a better chance of winning the lottery than being busted by the FCC for operating GMRS without a license.

  3. $75 for a five year license which covers the licensee and family members, up to and including cousins, I think.
    Many will disagree, but there’s no way in hell I would pay the FCC $75 to rent a couple miles of air for a few hours a year.

As stated above, GMRS licences are just the cost of a piece of paper. FRS radios require no license, but are useless in crowded areas. There are also GMRS repeaters that extend the range of a GMRS radio, but GMRS sites I’ve seen say that these repeaters are “private property” and you need permission to use them. Geeze, you pour a sidewalk and then tell people they can’t use it…

The best option, though not the easiest, is amateur radio. You need to study, then take an exam that will give you access to VHF frquencies and above. Last Saturday, I talked to two amateur radio stations 25 - 40 miles from me on just 2.5 watts, from the top of Mt. Mitchell, NC. There are also amateur repeaters all over the country and in Canada, some linked, that provide extended communications between licensed family and friends. And that’s not even including Echolink, or radio with a VoIP link.


Thanks for all the good info. Nametag, I will check out that link. Looks like everything I ever wanted to know, and then some.

Was this on a 2M repeater or simplex? Hard to believe without a highly directional antenna.

Chicago/Milwaukee ham

The reason you need a license is that the FCC wants money. Last time I looked, the license was $75-100, but I also found it incredibly difficult to figure out the application process. Considering that the darn license cost more than the radios, I bagged it. I use GMRS constantly on the ski slopes. If the FCC is looking for me, here I am! :smiley:

Seriously, I don’t think you need the license. You’d be technically breaking the law (you terrorist) but this is not one of the areas that the FCC gets worked up about.

You might consider alternatives, such as shortwave/ham/more powerful radios, but this depends on the application. GMRS is great cuz[ul]
[li]The radios are plentiful[/li][li]Lots of people have them[/li][/ul]

Licensed shortwave has a ton of advantages, including repeaters, but then you need someone else with a shortwave radio! Whereas GMRS radios are plentiful; this is borne out by the amount of useless drivel I hear on the slopes.

Simplex. I’m going to send out a QSL card to verify the distance. I was truly shocked.