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GMRS / FRS - Discussions related to GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) and FRS (Family Radio Service) communications

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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 09-29-2016, 7:45 AM
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I don't think DMR would have much impact on GMRS. In fact, a mandate to go narrowband would probably kill off the service in most areas. GMRS is only heavily populated and used in some metro areas, and regular people (who are now supposed to be the primary users) are not going to favor a major cash investment to continue using it.
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Old 09-30-2016, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by mmckenna View Post
Eventual attrition. The supply of old wide band repeaters will eventually dry up. Newer gear is forced narrow band in most cases. At some point in the future it will be too difficult to find wide band UHF equipment.

Won't happen tomorrow, won't happen in the next few years, but eventually it'll happen.
Unless the FCC steps in, and I'd never rule that out, especially if they find a way to make a buck off of it.
Eventually? I don't see it for at least a half century, assuming GMRS lasts that long. Most all commercial repeaters are still wide-bandable. What might kill it is type acceptance. Manufacturers would still have to make that happen, and if its not worth it, it won't happen.
Of course, thats almost the situation now.
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Old 09-30-2016, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by deanq View Post
Eventually? I don't see it for at least a half century, assuming GMRS lasts that long. Most all commercial repeaters are still wide-bandable. What might kill it is type acceptance. Manufacturers would still have to make that happen, and if its not worth it, it won't happen.
Of course, thats almost the situation now.
MTBF for these older repeaters is mostly pretty long, so I agree, it isn't going to happen tomorrow.

None the less, a lot of the gear in use is already pretty long in the tooth, so the clock is winding down. While most recent gear can do wide band, that's slowly going to disappear. At some point (see my "eventual" comment above), manufacturers are going to stop building radios with wide band filtering in them to save costs and compete with the flood of CCR's. Again, isn't going to be tomorrow, but will happen.

GMRS and Amateurs will always find the old gear and put it on line for their systems in attempts to save money. No one will deny that.

The FCC will eventually (there's that word again) figure out what they are doing with GMRS. While we like to make bold statements about what we will demand and how we will force the FCC to do what we want, the reality is the FCC is going to do something, and at some point we are not going to like it. There will be much sobbing, tears and keyboard warriors lashing out, but as adults we will get over it and move on. GMRS isn't going to stay wide band forever. Marine VHF is already planning for it. AM VHF air is planning for it. Amateur radio will likely (eventually) go narrow, wether the old-farts like it or not.

Sure, there will always be holdouts, old equipment, waivers, scofflaws and the old timers (get off my lawn!) that will try to drag the radio hobbies back into the 20th century, but eventually they'll die off. We aren't going back to GMRS spark gap, CW, AM, etc. Technology marches on and drags us along with it. Wide band GMRS will go the same way. Not tomorrow, though.
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Old 09-30-2016, 1:38 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveNF2G View Post
I don't think DMR would have much impact on GMRS. In fact, a mandate to go narrowband would probably kill off the service in most areas. GMRS is only heavily populated and used in some metro areas, and regular people (who are now supposed to be the primary users) are not going to favor a major cash investment to continue using it.
First let it be said I am a hold out (Luddite) in favor of WB FM for GMRS since it is inexpensive, equipment readily available and high performance is attainable.

That being said, unless one looks ahead and grasps the future, whatever change comes along may not be in our best interests.

DMR Tier 2 has some great potential for linking of repeaters via the internet (IP). Since DMR is TDMA there can be a local time slot (used my one or many talk groups) and a regional or national time slot. I believe the real utility would be on the local level where low antenna height repeaters could be knitted into county wide coverage at minimum investment.

I think the DMR technology will be pushing this direction, as it already is in commercial and amateur radio. If it isn't done voluntarily by individuals, you might see this 400 KHz peice of real estate being overtaken by commercial interests an a "pay to talk" ($PTT$) basis.
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Old 09-30-2016, 1:41 PM
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On an unrelated matter what ever happened to the PRSG? I see they have a closed yahoo group, but I sense inactivity from that front.
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Old 09-30-2016, 4:23 PM
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On an unrelated matter what ever happened to the PRSG? I see they have a closed yahoo group, but I sense inactivity from that front.
Personal radio steering group? I thought they were gone long ago? 73, n9zas
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Old 09-30-2016, 5:36 PM
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I think the PRSG was run by a guy named Preston. I haven't heard form him in a while. He used to be sort of active on some of the GMRS websites, but most of those have sort of disappeared.

Might be he just finally gave up on the fight.
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Old 09-30-2016, 11:55 PM
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Anyone want to guess how many current operational GMRS repeaters are capable or certified for narrow band operation? I would think less than 10% and probably less. If they light up a frequency or two 12.5 KHz away from an operational GMRS repeater, who is responsible for upgrading the receiver or replacing the repeater to exist in a 12.5KHz environment?
No need to guess. My Kenwood TKR-850 I used to own is one such repeater. All of my Part 90/95 radios are narrow capable and that's how I operate them. All commercial Part 90 equipment including equipment also having Part 95 type acceptance has been required to include narrow capability for Part 90 type acceptance since 1997. Narrowbanding isn't anything new. 2m/70cm ham gear has also had narrowband capability since about 1997 given that many of the ham designs are somewhat based on existing commercial designs.

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Also, how many GMRS radios in use are 12.5KHz radios? There is another potential expense that someone would have to pay for if there is interference.
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All of the current crop of 22-channel bubble pack radios already operate in narrow mode on all 22 channels. That's a LOT of GMRS radios. All FRS-only radios are narrow from day one since FRS was created in 1996. Again, that's a lot of radios. For wideband only commercial gear operating on GMRS it would be limited to pre-1997 equipment, most of which probably would have already been replaced by now. I would much rather use my Kenwood NX-300 portables I have today instead of the UHF Motorola GP300 portables I had back in 1993.

All of my adjacent channel splatter problems from local bubble pack users 12.5kHz away from the GMRS primary channel I'm using went away as soon as I made the switch from wide to narrow in my commercial gear. My repeater benefited too. All that was required was a few simple programming changes in my radios and in the repeater. Narrowbanding works. We already are operating in a 12.5kHz environment since we have to coexist with all the (already narrowband) bubble packs out there.
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:10 AM
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I think the PRSG was run by a guy named Preston. I haven't heard form him in a while. He used to be sort of active on some of the GMRS websites, but most of those have sort of disappeared.

Might be he just finally gave up on the fight.
Personal Radio Steering Group Inc
Categorized In: Newsletter Publishing
Address: 5330 Scio Church Road Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Phone Number: (734) 662-4533
Contact Person: Corwin Moore

He is apparently moderating a closed by subscription only PRSG mailing list. He used to have a website, or at least a BBS. I am surprised he hasn't posted anything anywhere on the recent FCC NPRMs.
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:28 AM
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Originally Posted by mmckenna View Post
I think the PRSG was run by a guy named Preston. I haven't heard form him in a while. He used to be sort of active on some of the GMRS websites, but most of those have sort of disappeared.

Might be he just finally gave up on the fight.
I haven't heard PRSG mentioned in quite a while. The name Corwin Moore also comes to mind.

EDIT: Just saw Corwin is listed above in RFI-EMI-GUY's post as the contact person for PRSG.
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:33 AM
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Ah yes, Corwin Moore. I still have one of the old red GMRS repeater guides they published. There was a website/forum many years ago that was primarily for GMRS users. Corwin would drop in now and again.
That was quite a few years back.

Not sure why I though Preston, he was a local APCO guy that did a lot of local frequency coordination.
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:37 AM
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Ah yes, Corwin Moore. I still have one of the old red GMRS repeater guides they published. There was a website/forum many years ago that was primarily for GMRS users. Corwin would drop in now and again.
That was quite a few years back.

Not sure why I though Preston, he was a local APCO guy that did a lot of local frequency coordination.
I think we are both thinking of Doug Smith's website. I recall you and I first crossed paths on that site back in the day.
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:43 AM
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I think we are both thinking of Doug Smith's website. I recall you and I first crossed paths on that site back in the day.
Yeah, that was me. I was sorry to hear of Doug's passing. A few tried to keep the site running for a while, but it slowly broke down. There's still a group on FaceBook, but it's pretty quiet.
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:54 AM
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MTBF for these older repeaters is mostly pretty long, so I agree, it isn't going to happen tomorrow.

None the less, a lot of the gear in use is already pretty long in the tooth, so the clock is winding down. While most recent gear can do wide band, that's slowly going to disappear. At some point (see my "eventual" comment above), manufacturers are going to stop building radios with wide band filtering in them to save costs and compete with the flood of CCR's. Again, isn't going to be tomorrow, but will happen.

GMRS and Amateurs will always find the old gear and put it on line for their systems in attempts to save money. No one will deny that.

The FCC will eventually (there's that word again) figure out what they are doing with GMRS. While we like to make bold statements about what we will demand and how we will force the FCC to do what we want, the reality is the FCC is going to do something, and at some point we are not going to like it. There will be much sobbing, tears and keyboard warriors lashing out, but as adults we will get over it and move on. GMRS isn't going to stay wide band forever. Marine VHF is already planning for it. AM VHF air is planning for it. Amateur radio will likely (eventually) go narrow, wether the old-farts like it or not.

Sure, there will always be holdouts, old equipment, waivers, scofflaws and the old timers (get off my lawn!) that will try to drag the radio hobbies back into the 20th century, but eventually they'll die off. We aren't going back to GMRS spark gap, CW, AM, etc. Technology marches on and drags us along with it. Wide band GMRS will go the same way. Not tomorrow, though.
New Part 90 equipment is already required to be narrow only to be granted type acceptance. I forget the exact date but it was just a couple of years ago. The narrowbanding of Part 90 has been gradually phased in starting around 1996. I recall Part 90 equipment was required to include narrowband capability for type acceptance starting around 1997. This equipment had wide AND narrow capability. Within the last couple of years and I forget the exact drop dead date, Part 90 type acceptance will not be granted to equipment that has wideband capabilty. Only narrowband capability going forward for Part 90 equipment.

Unless people want to keep GMRS held back in the 20th century, there is no reason not to narrowband all of GMRS and go with the Part 90 flow. We already are operating in a 12.5kHz environment on since we have to coexist with all of the (already narrowband) 22-channel bubble packs out there.

Have fun!
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Old 10-01-2016, 7:33 AM
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DMR Tier 2 has some great potential for linking of repeaters via the internet (IP). Since DMR is TDMA there can be a local time slot (used my one or many talk groups) and a regional or national time slot. I believe the real utility would be on the local level where low antenna height repeaters could be knitted into county wide coverage at minimum investment.
Hams tried that. Now there are at least three such competing networks. Wide area talkgroups are only available if you happen to initiate a conversation, otherwise you would never know they exist because the repeaters are programmed not to carry them unless someone on that repeater is using them.

Amateur radio has more active participants than GMRS (and there is some overlap). If they can't make repeater networking work, then I have no real hope that GMRS could do it.
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Old 10-01-2016, 8:32 AM
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Hams tried that. Now there are at least three such competing networks. Wide area talkgroups are only available if you happen to initiate a conversation, otherwise you would never know they exist because the repeaters are programmed not to carry them unless someone on that repeater is using them.

Amateur radio has more active participants than GMRS (and there is some overlap). If they can't make repeater networking work, then I have no real hope that GMRS could do it.
Hams can make digital linking work just fine, there are many examples of successful link systems. I use a couple DMR ham systems that were designed very well and avoided the temptation to go overboard. The problem, IMHO, is too many sysops add more talk groups than is reasonable. That's not a knock on the technology, it's just bad decision making.

As a licensee I would support DMR over GMRS in a heartbeat. Regarding the original post, it's my opinion GMRS has already descended into near chaos. I'm not sure the proposal will make things much worse than they already are. The GMRS frequencies I use are plagued by kids who think their bee bop and ringing noises are the sole use of the gadgets. They have no concept of which channels require licensing. The only relief is when they have to go to school.
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Old 10-01-2016, 9:00 AM
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Within the last couple of years and I forget the exact drop dead date, Part 90 type acceptance will not be granted to equipment that has wideband capabilty. Only narrowband capability going forward for Part 90 equipment.Have fun!
This I know is not true. The The rest of the world is still, for the most part, wide band. Every manufacturers CPS software has the capability to program wide band due to the non-US markets. It just might be turned off for you.
Other than HAM and GMRS, there might not be a reason for wide-band in the US. Get rid of GMRS, and that leaves the HAM bands. I think most HAMS would want to stay wide band........for experimentation.
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Old 10-01-2016, 9:20 AM
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Other than HAM and GMRS, there might not be a reason for wide-band in the US
Many higher end radios are also certified for parts 22 (paging), 74 (broadcast auxiliary), and 80 (marine). Narrowbanding only applies to part 90, and not ALL of part 90.
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Old 10-01-2016, 10:27 AM
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Hams tried that. Now there are at least three such competing networks. Wide area talkgroups are only available if you happen to initiate a conversation, otherwise you would never know they exist because the repeaters are programmed not to carry them unless someone on that repeater is using them.
Until recently, all of the repeaters (38) making up the Hoosier DMR Network had World Wide English, North America, and the Midwest Regional Talk Groups full-time.

The excessively long winded QSOs on NA especially caused two of the repeater's finals to burn up, so the decision was reluctantly made to make all of those TGs PTT only, thus effectively killing their intended usage as wide-area "Calling TGs".
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:23 PM
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New Part 90 equipment is already required to be narrow only to be granted type acceptance. I forget the exact date but it was just a couple of years ago. The narrowbanding of Part 90 has been gradually phased in starting around 1996. I recall Part 90 equipment was required to include narrowband capability for type acceptance starting around 1997. This equipment had wide AND narrow capability. Within the last couple of years and I forget the exact drop dead date, Part 90 type acceptance will not be granted to equipment that has wideband capabilty. Only narrowband capability going forward for Part 90 equipment.

Unless people want to keep GMRS held back in the 20th century, there is no reason not to narrowband all of GMRS and go with the Part 90 flow. We already are operating in a 12.5kHz environment on since we have to coexist with all of the (already narrowband) 22-channel bubble packs out there.

Have fun!
Since GMRS requires certified equipment, there is little room for experimentation at the transceiver level (that is the purpose of Amateur radio). So GMRS operators are dependent upon the flow of quality commercial grade equipment. Those supplies are limited to one or two LMR suppliers that cross certify their equipment and the "bubble pack" radios with limited repeater access and questionable performance.

One significant change to Part 95 rules would be a provision that Part 90 certified radios be categorically certified for Part 95 GMRS. Of course there would have to be some limitations and exceptions for 50 Watt power level and no encryption.

I think DMR is the best future because of the low cost of infrastructure and yielding two time slots further improves the cost/benefit. There cannot be any worldwide networks because GMRS is not an international service. That is the domain of amateur radio. However providing an ad-hoc network of GMRS repeaters to cover a county so that families can ; 1) have a local private Talk Group and 2) roam county wide like a community repeater sharing repeater resources with others. Example Time Slot 1 would be for sole use of repeater owner, Time Slot 2 would be a shared resource and linked wide area. This can be accomplished with IPSC and does not require servers or switches.

This would need to be coordinated as the limited number of repeater pairs would mean that interference could exist, and some provision to protect existing FM analog repeaters should be in place. A framework system could be designed that would work for most users.

What I am not seeing is any sort of organized support of GMRS. There are a lot of licensees but little in the way of a political movement to preserve and improve the service.

I am saddened to read postings that either discourage GMRS ("instead your wife and children should just get their ham tickets") or indicate that licenses are unimportant, (just operate unlicensed like the rest of the "bubble pack"), and should be eliminated ($1 a month is too expensive). The GMRS license is the only indication that GMRS interest exists and the FCC pays attention to those numbers.
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