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"Fixing GMRS" - an Editorial (AKA everyone's GMRS ideas go here)

RFI-EMI-GUY

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From time to time someone will post a proposed plan to "fix" GMRS.

This is done with good intentions, but without having or considering all of the facts.

Fix #1: Make more channels available, Narrow Band GMRS.

Fallacy: GMRS already has as many channels available as possible due to the fact that the traditional 12.5 KHz "interstitial channels" were allocated for FRS operations. If you reduce the deviation of GMRS from +/- 5.0 KHz to +/- 2.5 KHz you will have a 3 dB reduction in signal to noise ratio. And you will not gain any channels.

FIX #2: Reduce power for GMRS from 50 watts to 25 watts.

Fallacy: Why? Why would you do this? This will result in an additional 3 dB reduction in signal to noise ratio.

Argument for Fixes 1 and 2: Why not, 6 dB is equivalent to 1 S-unit.. Not much of a reduction

Fallacy: 6 dB means a lot more with respect to area communications reliability.

Look at the differences 3 dB and 6 dB make in the maps on this page. It is very significant

LEIKHIM AND ASSOCIATES LLC - VHF-UHF Narrowbanding

Fix #3; Lets make it license by rule. I don't like paying "the man" $70 for a license and I don't want "the man" to know what and where I am up to.

Fallacy: The $70 is for a 10 year license that is good for you and many of your relatives. It is less than 2 cents per day. By god are you that cheap? If so get into CB or ham radio. "The man" already knows what and where you are up to from your iphone. GMRS actually by its obscurity gives you more freedom.

Fix #4; Lets make GMRS a digital service!

Fallacy; Not so much as a fallacy, there are certain digital technologies that would enhance GMRS. However, the existing "wide band" FM technology has proven to be quite resilient and easy to interoperate between radio models. There are a number of digital technologies proposed. P25 which is very expensive and will not improve spectrum utilization. NXDN which shows promise but is not a huge commercial success. DMR is similar in some aspects to NXDN, but is an international standard adopted by nearly all manufacturers. DMR allows networking via IP and provides 2 slot TDMA. So yes , my bias is toward DMR. But getting there would require a consensus and a strong argument to show the FCC. Don't count on either. Until then enjoy wide band FM as the FM god Major Edwin H. Armstrong intended.

Fix #5: Lets make GMRS an extension of the 70CM ham band that way I can use my ham license and save 2 cents per day.

Fallacy: Amateur radio Part 97 and GMRS Part 95 are totally difference services with totally different goals.

FACTS:

GMRS is the only free relatively unrestricted, communications band that an individual can make use of high performance, 50 watt, wide band commercial grade performance. GMRS permits repeaters. None of the other Personal Radio services allow repeaters.

GMRS band is located in very desirable UHF spectrum. It would not take much to convince the current FCC administration to pave over it with commercial services. By having a license, GMRS operators are showing interest in occupying that space. Make use of it, dont abuse it by operating unlicensed, dont abuse it by running excessive power.

Buy radio equipment that meets the GMRS service specifications. If the transmitter does not modulate +/- 5.0 KHz and have an emission designator of 16K0F3E or 20K0F3E, you are not getting all the performance you can from GMRS. Some vendors repackage FRS junk with a higher power transmitter and call it GMRS. Shop wisely.

Please don't "fix" it.
 
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mmckenna

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I haven't noticed GMRS being "broken". Not sure why it needs to be "fixed".

I can appreciate the conversation and cerebral exercise, but I don't see any reason to go through all this to benefit a minority of users.
Having gone through the last FCC "fixing" of GMRS, I don't think people understand what was involved. There were a LOT of different opinions shared and a lot of arguments about what needed to be done. It took many years from beginning to end. In the end the FCC actually did a really good job of fixing the mess they themselves created by allowing dual service (FRS & GMRS) radios. They retained licensing and kept the 50 watts and repeaters even though there were some that were really wanting to go to a 2 watt only, license by rule, no repeaters, across the board solution.

FRS users have found their use. It fits what was the original intent for FRS, short range communications for family and businesses.
GMRS users got to keep their 50 watts, repeaters, etc. That retains the long standing intent of GMRS.

Ham radio operators need to understand their place. GMRS is not an extension of the 70 centimeter band, and an amateur license grants precisely ZERO permissions on GMRS. GMRS does not need to be "fixed" for the benefit of amateur radio operators. GMRS does not need to become part of the amateur radio service. Amateur radio does not need to become another GMRS service.

If FRS users want more power, it's as easy as spending that 2¢ a day and getting their GMRS license. It really is that simple. No need to dumb it down for people. MURS is also an option if you want something more.

There have been many attempts to "fix" CB radio over the years. Again, it's doing what it was intended to do, although the FCC lost control of it back in the late 70's, early 80's. While I know no one is asking, CB doesn't need more power or more channels. If anything, FCC needs to align with other countries and allow FM on CB.

But, I digress. Not sure I see that GMRS is broken in any way. Rebuilding it is not necessary.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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Yes most definitely FM on CB! I concur! I proposed FHSS on CB a few years back and folks thought it has lunacy. But it could be done cheaply , the software was written years ago for 900 MHz cordless phones that actually were good old FM at base-band. It would not be "secure" but every truck stop could have their own channel!
 

russbrill

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Messages
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From time to time someone will post a proposed plan to "fix" GMRS.

This is done with good intentions, but without having or considering all of the facts.

Fix #1: Make more channels available, Narrow Band GMRS.

Fallacy: GMRS already has as many channels available as possible due to the fact that the traditional 12.5 KHz "interstitial channels" were allocated for FRS operations. If you reduce the deviation of GMRS from +/- 5.0 KHz to +/- 2.5 KHz you will have a 3 dB reduction in signal to noise ratio. And you will not gain any channels.

FIX #2: Reduce power for GMRS from 50 watts to 25 watts.

Fallacy: Why? Why would you do this? This will result in an additional 3 dB reduction in signal to noise ratio.

Argument for Fixes 1 and 2: Why not, 6 dB is equivalent to 1 S-unit.. Not much of a reduction

Fallacy: 6 dB means a lot more with respect to area communications reliability.

Look at the differences 3 dB and 6 dB make in the maps on this page. It is very significant

LEIKHIM AND ASSOCIATES LLC - VHF-UHF Narrowbanding

Fix #3; Lets make it license by rule. I don't like paying "the man" $70 for a license and I don't want "the man" to know what and where I am up to.

Fallacy: The $70 is for a 10 year license that is good for you and many of your relatives. It is less than 2 cents per day. By god are you that cheap? If so get into CB or ham radio. "The man" already knows what and where you are up to from your iphone. GMRS actually by its obscurity gives you more freedom.

Fix #4; Lets make GMRS a digital service!

Fallacy; Not so much as a fallacy, there are certain digital technologies that would enhance GMRS. However, the existing "wide band" FM technology has proven to be quite resilient and easy to interoperate between radio models. There are a number of digital technologies proposed. P25 which is very expensive and will not improve spectrum utilization. NXDN which shows promise but is not a huge commercial success. DMR is similar in some aspects to NXDN, but is an international standard adopted by nearly all manufacturers. DMR allows networking via IP and provides 2 slot TDMA. So yes , my bias is toward DMR. But getting there would require a consensus and a strong argument to show the FCC. Don't count on either. Until then enjoy wide band FM as the FM god Major Edwin H. Armstrong intended.

Fix #5: Lets make GMRS an extension of the 70CM ham band that way I can use my ham license and save 2 cents per day.

Fallacy: Amateur radio Part 97 and GMRS Part 95 are totally difference services with totally different goals.

FACTS:

GMRS is the only free relatively unrestricted, communications band that an individual can make use of high performance, 50 watt, wide band commercial grade performance. GMRS permits repeaters. None of the other Personal Radio services allow repeaters.

GMRS band is located in very desirable UHF spectrum. It would not take much to convince the current FCC administration to pave over it with commercial services. By having a license, GMRS operators are showing interest in occupying that space. Make use of it, dont abuse it by operating unlicensed, dont abuse it by running excessive power.

Buy radio equipment that meets the GMRS service specifications. If the transmitter does not modulate +/- 5.0 KHz and have an emission designator of 16K0F3E or 20K0F3E, you are not getting all the performance you can from GMRS. Some vendors repackage FRS junk with a higher power transmitter and call it GMRS. Shop wisely.

Please don't "fix" it.
I think all of us are here because we love radio in some form, whether it's scanning, Hamming it up, shortwave listening, CB'ing, and of course using GMRS.

I tried to start this conversation on MyGMRS and the regulars told me I didn't know what I was talking about, and I got shut down. I'll say it again, something like my Fantasy Band Plan is coming, Narrowband is coming, and to be historically accurate GMRS Hijacked spectrum that was originally set aside for Public use and it was transformed into a service that primarily served small business.

A Midland sales representative stated on a YouTube video, the Farming community LOVES their Micro-mobile product line. Why, it works better than CB and doesn't have all the noise that CB does. And Midland promotes the hell out of GMRS and the Micro-mobile line to anyone that will listen. And my understanding is most of their Micro-mobile customers could care less about repeaters.

So, does the GMRS community want to wait around and play Defense when you're numbers are smaller. Or do you want to play offense with a Band Plan like mine that accommodates low power non-repeater users while PROTECTING your existing repeater pairs from unlicensed interference??? Just a thought, I'll shut up now...

73,
Russ
 

russbrill

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Yes most definitely FM on CB! I concur! I proposed FHSS on CB a few years back and folks thought it has lunacy. But it could be done cheaply , the software was written years ago for 900 MHz cordless phones that actually were good old FM at base-band. It would not be "secure" but every truck stop could have their own channel!
Current CB radio is on 27 MHz, that has been the main problem for Decades.. The FCC proposed a fix in 1973 and it (the fix) crashed and burned.. Here's some historic info https://repository.uchastings.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2392&context=hastings_law_journal .. It's an eye opener..
 
Last edited:

RFI-EMI-GUY

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Messages
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I think all of us are here because we love radio in some form, whether it's scanning, Hamming it up, shortwave listening, CB'ing, and of course using GMRS.

I tried to start this conversation on MyGMRS and the regulars told me I didn't know what I was talking about, and I got shut down. I'll say it again, something like my Fantasy Band Plan is coming, Narrowband is coming, and to be historically accurate GMRS Hijacked spectrum that was originally set aside for Public use and it was transformed into a service that primarily served small business.

A Midland sales representative stated on a YouTube video, the Farming community LOVES their Micro-mobile product line. Why, it works better than CB and doesn't have all the noise that CB does. And Midland promotes the hell out of GMRS and the Micro-mobile line to anyone that will listen. And my understanding is most of their Micro-mobile customers could care less about repeaters.

So, does the GMRS community want to wait around and play Defense when you're numbers are smaller. Or do you want to play offense with a Band Plan like mine that accommodates low power non-repeater users while PROTECTING your existing repeater pairs from unlicensed interference??? Just a thought, I'll shut up now...

73,
Russ
Russ;

I think your historical "facts" are way incorrect. GMRS was Class A and Class B CB in the UHF band long before it became a public safety/business band. We are talking tube type radios and 6V electrical system vehicles. GMRS did not hijack anything. Why would you even say this? You might want to do some research.

Midland is part of the problem in that they have ignored the operational parameters of GMRS , the wide band system deviation, and have flooded the market with low tier product based on FRS parameters. Most of their customers end up on the forums asking if they made a good purchase or not. To be honest I like the mobile with the remote head. But the low deviation is a non starter. Midland knows that their radios don't work well on repeaters or talking to other wide band radios. The modulation is weak and the CTCSS/DCS fails because it is too low.
 

russbrill

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Russ;

I think your historical "facts" are way incorrect. GMRS was Class A and Class B CB in the UHF band long before it became a public safety/business band. We are talking tube type radios and 6V electrical system vehicles. GMRS did not hijack anything. Why would you even say this? You might want to do some research.

Midland is part of the problem in that they have ignored the operational parameters of GMRS , the wide band system deviation, and have flooded the market with low tier product based on FRS parameters. Most of their customers end up on the forums asking if they made a good purchase or not. To be honest I like the mobile with the remote head. But the low deviation is a non starter. Midland knows that their radios don't work well on repeaters or talking to other wide band radios. The modulation is weak and the CTCSS/DCS fails because it is too low.
When I said "Public" I meant you and me, not police/fire/ems...

Well, get used to the Midland situation and more to come... That's why I say give them some more room and keep the FRS type radios off of the outputs.. And, if a user wants more than 5 Watts, that person will need a License..
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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When I said "Public" I meant you and me, not police/fire/ems...

Well, get used to the Midland situation and more to come... That's why I say give them some more room and keep the FRS type radios off of the outputs.. And, if a user wants more than 5 Watts, that person will need a License..
Either way, GMRS has not hijacked anything from anybody. It has been a bonifide service since the 1950's. I dont see your point in using that term.

There is nothing technologically wrong with GMRS that needs "fixin" , especially by the likes of Midland. Midlands sole motivation is to make as much money selling as many cheap boxes as they can. Really all you need to do is reread that 1975 report you posted and replace Class D CBRS with FRS and you will see same chaotic pattern forming.
 

russbrill

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Either way, GMRS has not hijacked anything from anybody. It has been a bonifide service since the 1950's. I dont see your point in using that term.

There is nothing technologically wrong with GMRS that needs "fixin" , especially by the likes of Midland. Midlands sole motivation is to make as much money selling as many cheap boxes as they can. Really all you need to do is reread that 1975 report you posted and replace Class D CBRS with FRS and you will see same chaotic pattern forming.
You're kinda making my argument for me. I hear the soldiers over the hill heading into town :( Now, you can either be overrun, or build up a defense. And yes, Midland wants to make money, my gut feeling is they're the reason the GMRS RF output wasn't reduced..
 

sallen07

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Midland is part of the problem in that they have ignored the operational parameters of GMRS , the wide band system deviation, and have flooded the market with low tier product based on FRS parameters.
Silly question: Who sells GMRS mobile (not hand held) radios other than Midland?
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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You're kinda making my argument for me. I hear the soldiers over the hill heading into town :( Now, you can either be overrun, or build up a defense. And yes, Midland wants to make money, my gut feeling is they're the reason the GMRS RF output wasn't reduced..
I am not sure what argument I am making for you. I don't support this or the other band plan you floated.

You present a band plan that is contrary to what exists but don't preface it with arguments as to why it is needed. So yes it will get picked apart at the basics.

My argument is that your proposed bandplan constrains the performance of an otherwise very permissive and wonderful service. Unless you are working for Midland, the only ones who don't give a hoot about GMRS performance, why would you even propose such a thing?

Can you explain why it would be needed?
 

russbrill

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I am not sure what argument I am making for you. I don't support this or the other band plan you floated.

You present a band plan that is contrary to what exists but don't preface it with arguments as to why it is needed. So yes it will get picked apart at the basics.

My argument is that your proposed bandplan constrains the performance of an otherwise very permissive and wonderful service. Unless you are working for Midland, the only ones who don't give a hoot about GMRS performance, why would you even propose such a thing?

Can you explain why it would be needed?
Okay, let's leave it the way it is... I'm a Ham, so I don't have to put up with unlicensed users and LICENSED users talking on the Repeater outputs and clogging up the system with Anarchy.. Those Micro-mobiles are selling like hotcakes, so this should be interesting... Good Luck!
 

mmckenna

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Okay, let's leave it the way it is... I'm a Ham, so I don't have to put up with unlicensed users and LICENSED users talking on the Repeater outputs and clogging up the system with Anarchy.. Those Micro-mobiles are selling like hotcakes, so this should be interesting... Good Luck!
I think you are under the impression that GMRS is suffering a lot from FRS users and Midland mobile users.

Not sure why you think that. If it's from personal experience, I'd love to hear more details. If it's from listening to your local GMRS traffic, I'm afraid you are getting a very narrow view of what's really going on.
I was very actively involved in the GMRS scene for quite a while. Back when FRS was new and heavily used, a lot of people wailed about "death of the radio service". That was 25 or more years ago. Still waiting for the death of GMRS. Hasn't happened yet.

From my own point of view, it really looks like you are trying to solve an issue that most others are not seeing. Maybe it's something strictly local to you, who knows. Share some details of actual experiences, and maybe we can help you find a way around them.

Rebuilding the GMRS service from the ground up, and taking away a lot of privileges that existing GMRS licensees have is not going to go over well. I don't get your idea that the only way to solve this is force all GMRS repeater users on to fewer channels and require them to reduce their power to 25 watts. That doesn't make a whole lot of technical sense.

If the issue is FRS users in the 467.xxxx channels interfering with repeater inputs, maybe it's high time repeater owners that are suffering from this get their receivers back on frequency, or better yet, start considering using narrow band. The suggestion of going narrow on GMRS will incite the type of concern you are experiencing from others, but it's a solution. Like it or not, the flow of cheap used wide band capable UHF radios will eventually dry up.

Again, I think the core issue here is that you seem to see a glaring issue with the current design of the GMRS service that the rest of us are not. The fact that we don't agree with you doesn't mean we are all wrong and you are the sole person on the planet that is correct. It more suggests that you are seeing a local issue that others are not experiencing.

Maybe if you share some real world experiences of your own that make you think that your solution fixes an issue you are experiencing, we can find a better solution.

And, after all, you completely welcome to submit your ideas to the FCC and see what happens. Who knows, maybe they'll agree with you.
 

russbrill

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I think you are under the impression that GMRS is suffering a lot from FRS users and Midland mobile users.

Not sure why you think that. If it's from personal experience, I'd love to hear more details. If it's from listening to your local GMRS traffic, I'm afraid you are getting a very narrow view of what's really going on.
I was very actively involved in the GMRS scene for quite a while. Back when FRS was new and heavily used, a lot of people wailed about "death of the radio service". That was 25 or more years ago. Still waiting for the death of GMRS. Hasn't happened yet.

From my own point of view, it really looks like you are trying to solve an issue that most others are not seeing. Maybe it's something strictly local to you, who knows. Share some details of actual experiences, and maybe we can help you find a way around them.

Rebuilding the GMRS service from the ground up, and taking away a lot of privileges that existing GMRS licensees have is not going to go over well. I don't get your idea that the only way to solve this is force all GMRS repeater users on to fewer channels and require them to reduce their power to 25 watts. That doesn't make a whole lot of technical sense.

If the issue is FRS users in the 467.xxxx channels interfering with repeater inputs, maybe it's high time repeater owners that are suffering from this get their receivers back on frequency, or better yet, start considering using narrow band. The suggestion of going narrow on GMRS will incite the type of concern you are experiencing from others, but it's a solution. Like it or not, the flow of cheap used wide band capable UHF radios will eventually dry up.

Again, I think the core issue here is that you seem to see a glaring issue with the current design of the GMRS service that the rest of us are not. The fact that we don't agree with you doesn't mean we are all wrong and you are the sole person on the planet that is correct. It more suggests that you are seeing a local issue that others are not experiencing.

Maybe if you share some real world experiences of your own that make you think that your solution fixes an issue you are experiencing, we can find a better solution.

And, after all, you completely welcome to submit your ideas to the FCC and see what happens. Who knows, maybe they'll agree with you.
I don't think it's appropriate for me to submit a Rule Making Proposal without a consensus from the Community that uses GMRS. I may come off like "It's all about Me", but I'm not like that...
 

mmckenna

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I just went to the Kenwood USA website and did a search for "GMRS" ... nothing.

So far the two choices I've found are Midland and various CCRs.
Kenwood still makes several Part 95 accepted mobiles and hand held radios. It costs money to get those certifications, above and beyond what it costs to get the Part 90 certifications they have. Kenwood doesn't have to do that, but they do. They see value in it. If they didn't, they would not be spending money on it.

And if it's that they are not selling preprogramed GMRS mobiles, that's not a Kenwood issue, that's a lazy uneducated user issue. Anyone who is serious about GMRS is using higher spec radios that the crap Cheap Chinese Radios that are being sold. Most of us who are/were active on GMRS were using Commerical grade stuff.
I feel bad for those that think GMRS radios are only available in pre-programmed consumer products. They are really missing out.
 
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