Projects > Emergency Radio Network

Project Status: Proposed

15:57 3/31/2006
Emergency Radio Network via Personal Radio Services

This is from John Walling:

I would like to suggest a committee approach to approved projects.

  1. Member(s) propose a project to the directors.
  2. Directors approve, reject or postpone the project.
  3. Directors set priority and goals for approved project.
  4. One director is assigned to oversee project.
  5. Members solicit like-minded volunteers and select a project leader.
  6. Project is documented online via content managment system or wiki.
  7. Deliverables, such as formal recommendations or plans are developed and presented to the Directors for further action or funding.

As an example, I would like to propose a project to develop standards for an Emergency Radio Network (ERN) to be used by ACT field teams. Two of the plan elements would be to determine the types of technology to use and what equipment to purchase and maintain.

The ERN would be used in the field (where telephone communications are not viable) to coordinate ACT teams internally and externally with similarly equiped groups.

Background information for Personal Radio Services

Personal Radio Services for consideration:

  • GMRS: General Mobile Radio Service
  • FRS: Family Radio Service
  • CB: Citizens Band Radio Service
  • MURS: Multi-Use Radio Service
  • ARS: Amateur Radio Service (ham radio)

FCC - Personal Radio Services

Wikipedia: General Mobile Radio Service


GMRS License Search

Wikipedia: Family Radio Service

FCC: Family Radio Service (FRS)
DC Emergency Radio Network (merged with National SOS Radio Network)
Covering the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area and Beyond
National SOS Radio Network
Based on the millions of Family Radio Service (FRS) radios already in use for camping, boating, hiking, etc.,  and the nationwide network of 700,000 ham radio operators and 70,000 licensed GMRS users.  The result:   A new emergency communications option for everyone.
Personal Radio Association
The PRA Personal Radio Service Emergency FAQ
Elements and Considerations of a Successful Disaster Preparedness Supplemental Communications Plan using the Personal Radio Services Including GMRS, FRS, MURS, and CB


  • FRS - no license required - 1 mile range - 500 milliwatts maximum
  • GMRS - license required - 5-25 mile range - 5 watts maximum

FRS Family Radio Service
  • The FRS is a license-free very-short-range radio service.
  • FRS channels one through seven are shared with the General Mobile Radio Service.
  • GMRS licensees may have small base stations up to five watts effective radiated power on FRS one through seven. This rule can make FRS in a neighborhood useful if one licensed resident can communicate well with many local hand-held FRS radios.
  • FRS channels eight through fourteen are exclusive to the FRS.
  • Families and businesses are both allowed to use radios that are FCC approved for the Family Radio Service.
  • Anarchy reigns on the FRS in urban areas. Interference can be severe.
  • FRS radio waves travel line of sight.
  • Antenna height is more important to range than is the power of the radio. Communication over tens of miles is possible from high altitudes.
  • Heavily forested areas limit the range of FRS. UHF radio waves are absorbed by vegetation.
  • Intentional interference on FRS is common. Call tones are typically used to interfere and annoy others.
  • Very-local use of FRS around a neighborhood or a home is very effective.
  • FRS radios are limited to one-half watt output.
  • Only the United States and Canada share a Family Radio Service on the same frequencies. Use of FRS radios in other countries is illegal. Some persons have obtained prior permission to use FRS frequencies in other countries but this is the exception and not the rule.
  • Manufacturer marketing claims of useful communication beyond several hundred feet to one half mile are greatly exaggerated and intended only to sell radios by creating unrealistic expectations in the minds of consumers.
  • Children should not use FRS radios unsupervised. Parents should know who their children are talking to especially with the new Hasbro text-messaging radios.
  • FRS radios are unfortunately also used by criminals.
  • Use of FRS radios as children's toys should be discouraged.
  • Use of FRS radios and other two-way radios by hunters to coordinate the hunting of game may be regulated in some states. In some states it is considered unsportsmanlike conduct to coordinate the hunt using two-way radios.
  • FRS radios are perfect for neighbors to use to keep in touch before, during, and after disasters.
  • FCC rules prohibit FRS radio connection to external antennas.
  • FCC rules prohibit FRS radio connection to telephone systems.
  • FCC rules prohibit FRS radio connection to store and forward repeaters.

General Mobile Radio Service
  • Use of GMRS is limited to personal licensees. Organizations, clubs, and businesses are not eligible to license in GMRS. Individuals are licensed upon application and payment of a license fee. The renewable license is good for five years.
  • Personal licensees may conduct their personal business.
  • A person's GMRS license covers their immediate family members including members of the immediate family not living in the licensee's home.
  • A licensee is responsible for the proper operation of all radio equipment used as part of the licensee's system.
  • GMRS base stations and mobile units may use external antennas and power outputs up to fifty watts.
  • GMRS licensees may use up to five watts effective radiated power on GMRS interstitial channels also known as Family Radio Service channels one through seven.
  • GMRS allows the use of radio repeater stations.
  • Higher power outputs of GMRS radios make communications more reliable over greater distances.
  • GMRS repeaters are considered private property. Repeaters may be shared by licensees but sharing agreements must be in writing and kept with station records.

Projects > Emergency Radio Network