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GMRS Repeater Networks/Linking Legal?

beischel

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I am sure this has been discussed somewhere, but has the FCC ever said if linking GMRS repeaters into a network is legal? I am curious because the moderator of a large GMRS group on Facebook noted that he will not tolerate any discussions on the group about networking repeaters because it is illegal.

I found were someone posted a alleged email from the FCC that indicated it is legal. I sent that to him and he claims it is a fraud for various reasons he pointed out.

However, I have not seen any FCC actions against repeater owners who have linked their repeaters via the Internet.

I don't really care as I have amateur radio for that purpose, but would like to know if that was any credible statement from the FCC on GMRS repeater linking.

Thanks!
 

ecps92

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Yes - many a thread here as well as other places, has it been discussed, argued etc

Re-Reading the FCC Rules the only prohibition is/was connection to the PTSN [aka Telephone or Phone patch]
yet that is subject to many other interpretations

I am sure this has been discussed somewhere, but has the FCC ever said if linking GMRS repeaters into a network is legal? I am curious because the moderator of a large GMRS group on Facebook noted that he will not tolerate any discussions on the group about networking repeaters because it is illegal.

I found were someone posted a alleged email from the FCC that indicated it is legal. I sent that to him and he claims it is a fraud for various reasons he pointed out.

However, I have not seen any FCC actions against repeater owners who have linked their repeaters via the Internet.

I don't really care as I have amateur radio for that purpose, but would like to know if that was any credible statement from the FCC on GMRS repeater linking.

Thanks!
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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I am sure this has been discussed somewhere, but has the FCC ever said if linking GMRS repeaters into a network is legal? I am curious because the moderator of a large GMRS group on Facebook noted that he will not tolerate any discussions on the group about networking repeaters because it is illegal.

I found were someone posted a alleged email from the FCC that indicated it is legal. I sent that to him and he claims it is a fraud for various reasons he pointed out.

However, I have not seen any FCC actions against repeater owners who have linked their repeaters via the Internet.

I don't really care as I have amateur radio for that purpose, but would like to know if that was any credible statement from the FCC on GMRS repeater linking.

Thanks!
You are correct in your summation.

1) There is no prohibition against linking in the GMRS rules. In fact it is implied there can be connection via internet.

2) No one anywhere has been cited by FCC for linking via internet.

3) Those who argue against it rely upon an old rule, back from the days when there was to be a control operator for remotely controlled stations (Repeaters) . That old rule is a Scriveners error. It should have been removed decades ago, the rule is essentially a "dead link".

4) The prohibition against PSTN linking was to appease ATT by preventing the GMRS from becoming a poor mans mobile phone service that could escape long distance toll tariffs. For example a phone call across two area codes. Those issues are all now obsolete and moot, except poor mans mobile phone. The PSTN actually no longer exists.

5) A few years back, someone actually contacted the FCC and got a response that linking repeaters was fine as long as the PSTN was not part of the link. It was a credible and official response and yet some have argued it was bogus because a "low level FCC employee" responded.
 
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mmckenna

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Legality aside, what is the need to turn GMRS into amateur radio and link stuff up?
Increased coverage. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a high mountain to put the repeater on. If you are stuck with a lower level repeater, adding more sites can improve coverage. Linking those sites together is difficult for GMRS since there aren't many options for out of band inter-site links. Pretty much comes down to IP linking or microwave. Microwave is expensive, and IP is generally pretty cheap.

But you were probably asking more along the lines of GMRS repeaters all across the country getting linked. Answer to that is probably "because they can" and not everyone has the aptitude to pass a ham radio test.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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Increased coverage. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a high mountain to put the repeater on. If you are stuck with a lower level repeater, adding more sites can improve coverage. Linking those sites together is difficult for GMRS since there aren't many options for out of band inter-site links. Pretty much comes down to IP linking or microwave. Microwave is expensive, and IP is generally pretty cheap.

But you were probably asking more along the lines of GMRS repeaters all across the country getting linked. Answer to that is probably "because they can" and not everyone has the aptitude to pass a ham radio test.
Also GMRS is specifically for individuals and their families. If you want wide area family communications, linking GMRS can provide that. Great for folks with lengthy daily commutes.
 

AK9R

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...not everyone has the aptitude to pass a ham radio test...
It takes a fair amount of technical ability to put up an effective repeater, whether it be amateur radio or GMRS.

I find it hard to believe that someone with the technical ability to put up a repeater wouldn't have the aptitude to answer 26 questions correctly on a 35-question amateur radio Technician test.
 

rescue161

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I have some ham and GMRS repeaters. The GMRS are linked to the mygmrs.net network. I used the GMRS repeaters with my Wife, because she isn't a ham and has no plans to ever get her license. We started using Zello, so she never uses the radio anymore. I still keep the GMRS repeater online to allow others that don't want to pursue a ham license. As a bonus, most of the users that ask for permission to use my GMRS repeaters actually end up getting their ham ticket.
 

mmckenna

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It takes a fair amount of technical ability to put up an effective repeater, whether it be amateur radio or GMRS.


I find it hard to believe that someone with the technical ability to put up a repeater wouldn't have the aptitude to answer 26 questions correctly on a 35-question amateur radio Technician test.
Absolutely, but like on ham radio, putting up your own repeater isn't a requirement. There are open repeaters on GMRS that are available for people to use. I had access to a high level GMRS repeater that belonged to someone else.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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It takes a fair amount of technical ability to put up an effective repeater, whether it be amateur radio or GMRS.

I find it hard to believe that someone with the technical ability to put up a repeater wouldn't have the aptitude to answer 26 questions correctly on a 35-question amateur radio Technician test.
Maybe they don't want to get a ham license and simply want communications for their family? I was building repeaters and working on commercial systems as a GROL for 18 years before I got my ham license. Part 97 and part 95 have totally different objectives and personalities. Just because the technology (FM UHF band simplex and repeaters) somewhat overlap does not mean one cannot choose one or the other.
 

mmckenna

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Maybe they don't want to get a ham license and simply want communications for their family? I was building repeaters and working on commercial systems as a GROL for 18 years before I got my ham license. Part 97 and part 95 have totally different objectives and personalities. Just because the technology (FM UHF band simplex and repeaters) somewhat overlap does not mean one cannot choose one or the other.
I'll echo this. I've been a ham for a long time, but had trouble getting others interested.

I had a bunch of family members that would ride ATV's together. I had my ham ticket, but the rest of them had zero interest in that as a hobby. They just wanted reliable radios. GMRS fit that bill perfectly. I picked up a bunch of commercial UHF portable and mobile radios and that served the needs of everyone just fine. Even had access to a few high level repeaters with our own CTCSS tones, so we didn't have to listen to everyone else.
Eventually they decided that maybe ham was sort of interesting, and they all got their ham tickets. But to this day, they are not really interested in the hobby, they are interested in the tool. Eventually everyone migrated to 2 meters, and that serves us pretty well, but GMRS was handy since the kids didn't need to get their licenses to use it.

And most ham repeaters won't let you run your own PL tone to filter out all the stuff you don't want to hear.


GMRS absolutely has it's place, and in some cases, it's a better tool than amateur radio.
 

marcotor

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What's the big deal if a group of people with the funds desires to network repeaters to chit chat, and aren't Amateur Licensees? They're working within the established rules, and taking advantage of an opportunity. And while I doubt it would turn into Echolink, since when should we as Amateurs have an exclusive on networking repeaters for talking on?

Amateur Radio Licensees certainly do not have an exclusive to the fountain of all knowledge when it comes to the technical side of *anything*. I have plenty of LMR friends who are wizards when it comes to radio, who have no interest/desire to obtain a license. And amazingly enough, they are quite versed in the skills needed to make a system work.

More power to em if it works for what they are trying to do.
 

AK9R

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In a thread about linking GMRS repeaters over a "network", it was stated that "not everyone has the aptitude to pass a ham radio test". This statement was apparently made as a justification for not getting an amateur radio license. Taken out of context, that's a valid statement. However, within the context of GMRS repeaters, I pointed out that if someone has the ability to put up an effective GMRS repeater, then they can probably pass an amateur radio Technician exam.

This thread is not about amateur radio vs. GMRS. This thread is about linking GMRS repeaters.
 

rescue161

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There are plenty of very smart people that have the knowledge to network devices/repeaters over the internet, but don't have a desire to venture into ham radio. Being smart is obviously not a prerequisite for becoming a ham as I have encountered plenty of hams that aren't very bright. It doesn't take much to memorize the answers to a test.
 

mmckenna

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I grew up across the street from an EMI/RFI engineer who worked for several very large companies in the Silicon Valley. His dad ran a company that built anechoic rooms to do the testing in. This guy knew RF backwards and forwards...

But he had zero interest in becoming a ham. He dealt with the stuff all day at work and just didn't want to play radio when he got home. He also got tired of hams arguing with him about a subject he was a known expert at. He did run some radios on a commercial UHF system. Wasn't GMRS, but still UHF, repeaters, hand held and mobile radios….
He's part of the reason I went into this field.

When he retired, he did eventually get his ham ticket and was pretty active.

But, yeah, ham radio isn't the be-all/end-all of radio knowledge, and some just are not interested in it. Doesn't mean they are not smart enough, just not the interest to do it at a hobby level.
 

MTS2000des

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my question is this:

for those who operate linked GMRS repeaters, following GMRS rules, specifically 95.359, which states the following:
Operators of Personal Radio Service stations must cooperate in the selection and use of channels in order to avoid interference and make efficient use of these shared channels.

So how can one ensure they aren't intentionally interfering with users on repeaters linked together if they can't effectively monitor (before transmitting) all of the linked repeater pairs to ensure no one else is transmitting?

Unlike part 90 and part 97 which utilize repeater coordination to ensure interference doesn't occur, in part 95, there is no such animal and everyone has to share equally.

It seems piggish and against the spirit of the law to utilize part 95 in the manner where one entity or individual sucks up all 8 repeater pairs with a linked system that can easily interfere with others and no realistic way for users of such systems to ensure they aren't intruding upon others.
 
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