The Family Radio Service (FRS) is an improved walkie talkie radio system authorized in the United States since 1996. It is commonly used on live steam railroads for dispatcher to engineer, or engineer to engineer communications.
This personal radio service uses channelized frequencies around 462 and 467 MHz in the ultra high frequency (UHF) band. It does not suffer the interference effects found on citizens' band (CB) at 27 MHz, or the 49 MHz band also used by cordless phones, toys, and baby monitors. FRS uses frequency modulation (FM) instead of amplitude modulation (AM). Since the UHF band has different radio propagation characteristics, short-range use of FRS may be more predictable but shorter ranged that than the more powerful license-free radios operating in the HF CB band.
Initially proposed by Radio Shack in 1994 for use by families, FRS has also seen significant adoption by business interests, as an unlicensed, low-cost alternative to the business band.
The General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) is an upgraded version of FRS. GMRS provides more channels and higher output power, but requires a license in the United States. FRS channels can be used from GMRS radios.
FRS and GMRS radios are readily available at department stores.