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Is there an obvious primary 'CB' radio system in America?

bitmorechoke

Newbie
Joined
Mar 30, 2018
Messages
44
Location
NSW Australia
Hi folks,

As you may know, here in Australia we have an 80-channel 477MHz citizens band we just call 'UHF'. It's used by truckies, travelers, farmers, 4WDers, event organizers, construction crews, volunteer firefighters, you name it, it's our default public 2-way system. You can buy cheap pairs of radios in electronics retailers and post offices, and better ones in more specialist shops and 4WD outfitters etc, but it's all the same system.

From what I can see, the US has a bunch of different public 2-way radio systems (CB, FRS, GMRS, MURS etc). Is there one 'logical choice' that would get used for many of the above purposes, or is the user base a lot more fragmented?
 

tomk62

Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2012
Messages
80
Location
Charleston, SC
It used to be CB, but that has dwindled in popularity.

MURS is VHF and max 2 watts and is not very popular, used mostly by businesses.

GMRS is growing in popularity. FRS and GMRS are similar in that FRS is a subset of GMRS, is low power only, and does not require a license. GMRS requires a license but there is no exam.

FRS radios tend to be "toy" to consumer quality and only handhelds, while GMRS can be consumer to professional grade and includes mobile radios up to 50 watts.
 

nd5y

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
11,385
Location
Wichita Falls, TX
From what I can see, the US has a bunch of different public 2-way radio systems (CB, FRS, GMRS, MURS etc). Is there one 'logical choice' that would get used for many of the above purposes, or is the user base a lot more fragmented?
FRS probably has the most users and would be the closest thing to UHF CB. You can buy the radios anywhere and they don't require a license. The limiting factor is they are hand helds only with no external antenna allowed and no repeaters.

Since the 1980s non-individuals (businesses, organizations, governments) are not allowed to apply for GMRS licenses but a few old ones still exist.

Most volunteer fire departments in the US either have their own frequencies or use city, county or state systems. I haven't heard of any that primarily use CB, FRS, GMRS, MURS.
 
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BinaryMode

Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2023
Messages
436
Location
USA
With the now introduction of FM in CB instead of only AM, it's possible that CB may take off again.

Now if the FCC would also allow subcodes in CB...

Edit-

I stand corrected. Perhaps subcodes are allowed on CB. I thought they weren't. Must have read something wrong. Group Communications With PRESIDENT CB Radios - CTCSS/DCS

Wouldn't mind testing these out...

Edit 2- That's a bad link. Cheaper on Chinazon and the handheld DOES NOT have subcodes.
 
Last edited:

mmckenna

I ♥ Ø
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
24,209
Location
I am a lineman for the county.
I stand corrected. Perhaps subcodes are allowed on CB. I thought they weren't. Must have read something wrong. Group Communications With PRESIDENT CB Radios - CTCSS/DCS

Wouldn't mind testing these out...

CTCSS/DCS is permitted on CB, and always has (although it didn't work reliably on AM). With FM, it's one of the things that could make CB tolerable again.


I've just driven about 1,200 miles across the western states. I don't have a CB in my truck, but I have been scanning FRS/GMRS. Briefly I scanned MURS.

MURS is mostly businesses and heard in cities. Didn't hear any MURS users outside of towns, and even then it was pretty slim.

FRS/GMRS has been pretty active.
-Heard a hotel talking about getting rooms ready.
-Lots of businesses doing their thing.
-Lots of construction.
-Lots of kids.
-A few families on the road communicating between cars.
-Loggers.
-In Western Colorado/Eastern Utah, quite a bit of off road users.

Did this trip a few years back with a CB. Heard very little -useful- traffic.

The average consumer wants small, easy and cheap. They don't care about the technology, just as long as the tool does what they want it to do. A couple of cheap FRS radios work well for what most need for very little investment and a few batteries.
 

Rq17954z

Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2022
Messages
34
Location
Waterbury CT
Where I live, CB is mostly people talking DX with radios over the legal limit on wattage. Gmrs is seldom used. FRS used a lot by any tree trimming service and other business needing to stop traffic or just at a job site. Amateur radio seems to be the most widely used service amongst the public. Very spread out lots of different options.
 

KC3ECJ

Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2015
Messages
535
Where I live, CB is mostly people talking DX with radios over the legal limit on wattage. Gmrs is seldom used. FRS used a lot by any tree trimming service and other business needing to stop traffic or just at a job site. Amateur radio seems to be the most widely used service amongst the public. Very spread out lots of different options.
I think around here in Pennsylvania people are getting fed up with the extreme wattage on CB.
GMRS is becoming quite popular.
 

nd5y

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
11,385
Location
Wichita Falls, TX
Amateur radio seems to be the most widely used service amongst the public.
No way. There are only 751,647 amateur licenses in the US as of yesterday.
That includes inactive people and people that die before the license expires in 10 years.
There are probably more than 750,000 FRS radios sold every month.
 

Rq17954z

Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2022
Messages
34
Location
Waterbury CT
No way. There are only 751,647 amateur licenses in the US as of yesterday.
That includes inactive people and people that die before the license expires in 10 years.
There are probably more than 750,000 FRS radios sold every month.
I stand corrected.
 

rf_patriot200

Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2024
Messages
226
Location
Freeport, Illinois
Hi folks,

As you may know, here in Australia we have an 80-channel 477MHz citizens band we just call 'UHF'. It's used by truckies, travelers, farmers, 4WDers, event organizers, construction crews, volunteer firefighters, you name it, it's our default public 2-way system. You can buy cheap pairs of radios in electronics retailers and post offices, and better ones in more specialist shops and 4WD outfitters etc, but it's all the same system.

From what I can see, the US has a bunch of different public 2-way radio systems (CB, FRS, GMRS, MURS etc). Is there one 'logical choice' that would get used for many of the above purposes, or is the user base a lot more fragmented?
Many of the hobby users here in the states, hold licenses on Gmrs and Ham radio or Both, and of course Frs, and Murs like others have mentioned.
 

slowmover

Active Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
2,143
Location
Fort Worth
Is there one 'logical choice' that would get used for many of the above purposes, or is the user base a lot more fragmented?


CB is still #1. Number of users and highest likelihood of contact for travelers. The current solar cycle makes things more difficult, but NRC-equipped radios appeared and have cut that aggravation down.


As a cross-continent truck driver, CB has first place, and the others trail in viabity. So there are trade-offs depending on whether in a major metro region or whether farther afield.

We’ve lost the “all in it together”, for now. Too many invaders.

America is a widely spread conglomeration of major metro areas.

New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston are the five largest cities (SMSA), but as you can see, the regions are enormous in population + density (330-million, total, likely higher. Almost all in these colored zones).

IMG_5083.jpeg

.
 
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slowmover

Active Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
2,143
Location
Fort Worth
Having spent only 3 years over the road in a truck, I can say I can't Stand CB's, I had a few radios in my rig, but absolutely not that. Constantly, other drivers were asking hey what channel ? My answer was always, One you don't have !

(Said to all who express same):

Too bad you never had an up-to-date rig which was properly installed. As it’s foolhardy to run a semi lacking comms with other drivers.

My expensive radio rig pays itself back 2-3X each year in risk-avoidance and higher productivity; all with lowered stress.

Best quality produces best results. And it’s a helluva lot more fun.

I rented an SUV to return home after one job. Used my backup rig with a mag mount. Couldn’t believe I’d ever considered that “normal” as it was atrocious over a three day trip down familiar highways. I knew what was missing in every mile. 10-years chasing performance made me forget.

At this point consider your experience as lacking. Along with 90%+ of all others . . even those with decades of “experience”.

There’s plenty of days mine sounds as good as any VHF set-up. “High performance” is a different world.

One finds unmet cousins and brothers, on-air, who take it as seriously. And do the work. Getting home isn’t guaranteed. There are only a few occupations with a higher job fatality rate.

I’d imagine lessons learned over-the-road are still with you while running around in your personal vehicle: the day you get far from the comforts of familiar surroundings under the societal breakdown we’re undergoing — a trip for needed supply to keep your family afloat, say — CB will matter greatly.

The OP noted the general acceptance of one radio service in his nation. Solidarity. In this country it takes more work to get something similar. (Western Canada into Alaska using LADD somewhat unauthorized is more like Australia, by report. Seattle to Anchorage is 3,640-KM, Ozzie).

There’s a saying that, Universe provides. I can report that it’s flat uncanny who pops up on-air right before things get hinky. The gear isn’t enough. It’s knowing what to expect and how to use that gear. Active, not passive as a radio operator before Threat rears its head.

All the other services are good to have. No argument on that.

.
 
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MiCon

Mike
Joined
Feb 9, 2006
Messages
120
Location
central AZ
Hi folks,

As you may know, here in Australia we have an 80-channel 477MHz citizens band we just call 'UHF'. It's used by truckies, travelers, farmers, 4WDers, event organizers, construction crews, volunteer firefighters, you name it, it's our default public 2-way system. You can buy cheap pairs of radios in electronics retailers and post offices, and better ones in more specialist shops and 4WD outfitters etc, but it's all the same system.

From what I can see, the US has a bunch of different public 2-way radio systems (CB, FRS, GMRS, MURS etc). Is there one 'logical choice' that would get used for many of the above purposes, or is the user base a lot more fragmented?
To get back to the original question, there is no logical choice for general use. Too many factors: distance you need to cover (power), equipment size and cost, interference (electrical, terrain, abundance of users), and mostly the fact that most people just want something cheap and simple without instructions and rules, to use as they please.

Everyone is an expert. I'm not. What follows is my opinion, based on my experience. I'm 76 years old and started into radio, including CB, in the early 1960's.

Technically, CB would be best for travel and rural use. Base, mobile, and HT. CTCSS & DPS use becoming available. SSB available in some units. It's on the fringe of being HF and gets good range for local use. But the equipment is bulky compared to VHF and UHF. And most importantly, it's almost impossible to use due to the idiots using it, whether they're around the corner or across the country. The use of CTCSS/ DCS codes would be helpful for personal use, but useless if you want to just monitor to see what's going on locally (as in traveling). Back in the day most people would monitor CH9. Make contact and switch to another channel for conversation. That kind of co-ordination and courtesy went out the window decades ago.

MURS (VHF): good comms. Reliable, clear audio, more power than FRS. Base, mobile, and HT use. CTCSS & DPS use. Used mostly by licensed (and some unlicensed) businesses, mostly commercial, retail, and construction, some schools. Most of the general public don't even know MURS is available.

GMRS: Best for range due to the use of repeaters. Base, mobile, HT, and repeater use. CTCSS & DPS use. Need a license and more expensive equipment. Good for travel because there are many repeaters available for use, but you need to know where they are, and what frequency/ code they use. Good for personal use if you can afford your own repeater or join a repeater group.

FRS: Most convenient. Small, cheap, easy to use, available in most stores. Very short range. HT use only. Many frequencies to choose from, and most units have DCS code availability. Used by EVERYONE: stores, construction crews, manufacturers, schools, kids, family travel, even public safety for special events. But like CB, there is no protocol to follow. You'd have to scan all of the channels to find out what's going on locally. Because they're cheap and available everywhere, most people buy them and expect it's their own personal radio system. They don't understand how they work, and expect that no one else will be using them, too. Therefore, they cause interference with other users but expect others to respect their use. It's become the CB of UHF.
 

rf_patriot200

Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2024
Messages
226
Location
Freeport, Illinois
(Said to all who express same):

Too bad you never had an up-to-date rig which was properly installed. As it’s foolhardy to run a semi lacking comms with other drivers.

My expensive radio rig pays itself back 2-3X each year in risk-avoidance and higher productivity; all with lowered stress.

Best quality produces best results. And it’s a helluva lot more fun.

I rented an SUV to return home after one job. Used my backup rig with a mag mount. Couldn’t believe I’d ever considered that “normal” as it was atrocious over a three day trip down familiar highways. I knew what was missing in every mile. 10-years chasing performance made me forget.

At this point consider your experience as lacking. Along with 90%+ of all others . . even those with decades of “experience”.

There’s plenty of days mine sounds as good as any VHF set-up. “High performance” is a different world.

One finds unmet cousins and brothers, on-air, who take it as seriously. And do the work. Getting home isn’t guaranteed. There are only a few occupations with a higher job fatality rate.

I’d imagine lessons learned over-the-road are still with you while running around in your personal vehicle: the day you get far from the comforts of familiar surroundings under the societal breakdown we’re undergoing — a trip for needed supply to keep your family afloat, say — CB will matter greatly.

The OP noted the general acceptance of one radio service in his nation. Solidarity. In this country it takes more work to get something similar. (Western Canada into Alaska using LADD somewhat unauthorized is more like Australia, by report. Seattle to Anchorage is 3,640-KM, Ozzie).

There’s a saying that, Universe provides. I can report that it’s flat uncanny who pops up on-air right before things get hinky. The gear isn’t enough. It’s knowing what to expect and how to use that gear. Active, not passive as a radio operator before Threat rears its head.

All the other services are good to have. No argument on that.

.
Between the echos, lousy reverbs, and overdriven radios, it just resulted in a headache if I listened. The gear I had installed was all top notch, and had More range, Better sound and capability than anything on 11 meters. I got along just fine, No tickets. No dot tags, or overweights . Driving got on my nerves after 3 years, but it was fun at times.
 

mmckenna

I ♥ Ø
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
24,209
Location
I am a lineman for the county.
462.5625-462.7125 are listed as up to 5 watts, but the the retail bubblepack variety is usually only 2 watts. True in regards to the half watt 467mhz. "stitials"

I do believe you are confusing FRS and GMRS rules.

FRS allows only allows 2 watts or 1/2 watt depends on the channel.
To run 5 watts, that falls under the GMRS rules and license requirements.
 
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