Saturday, 23 June 2012

Be Wary of Advertised Communications Distances on GMRS Packaging

Be Wary of Advertised Communications Distances on GMRS Packaging

by Phillip J. Boucher

Many manufacturers of GMRS radios are upping the advertised communications distances on their product packaging. Although this is an effective marketing technique, it is misleading to those potential purchasers who are unfamiliar with UHF frequency propagation.

As described in my book, "The Complete Guide to Canada's General Mobile Radio Service," all GMRS radios legally sold in Canada are limited by Industry Canada regulations to two watts of effective radiated output power. What this means is that the power that comes out of the antenna is a maximum of two watts, even if the radio's circuitry generates more than that. At GMRS frequency ranges of 462 and 467 MHz, this translates to about a maximum of eight to ten kilometres of effective operating range over water, and a maximum of about sixty thousand square meters/two hundred thousand square feet of operating range in a warehouse setting, and a maximum of about twenty floors of an office or apartment building.

Now some manufactures are claiming operational ranges of up to fifty-six kilometres and more under ideal conditions. However, they do not list the radio's output power nor do they indicate the actual meaning of "ideal conditions." Eight to ten kilometres is really the expected range and the ideal operating conditions for GMRS radios, and of course, any type of obstacle, especially metal, in between two or more users will reduce the effective operation range. However, if you communicate from mountain top to mountain top with nothing but air in between the radios, then yes, you could probably reach ranges up to eighty kilometres.

But the majority of users are not talking between mountain tops. They are using GMRS radios to communicate while cycling, hiking, working around the house, working on the job site or in a warehouse, or in a building. Practical, everyday uses.

I would not go so far as to say that listing these types of GMRS communications distances is irresponsible, but I do think that manufacturers should be a bit more realistic about the actual operating ranges purchasers can expect to obtain. Inflating the range only creates customer frustration when they realize that they can't even come close to the claimed operational range.

So know what you can expect when using GRMS radios.They are designed for short-range remote communications. The typical range in normal operating environments is about two to five kilometres, and operating range can be even less in areas crowded with trees, buildings, and structures.

So be wary of the advertised communications distances on GMRS packaging and remember the actual typical ranges you can expect. This will ensure that you get best use out of your equipment.

Phillip J. Boucher is the author of the ebook, The Complete Guide to Canada's General Mobile Radio Service, availbe from Amazon for $14.95.