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Message exchange with Amateur Radio Service prohibited?


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I can think of a lot of scenarios where local community groups using GMRS radios would like to communicate with a dual-hatted GMRS station that is also an Amateur Radio station to pass along non-emergency message traffic such as individual health and welfare traffic, neighborhood damage assessments, etc. to outside of the local area via the Amateur Radio station.  I've heard of Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) groups using this layered approach to integrate non-hams into their disaster communications plans. 


Is the FCC explicitly saying this is illegal in the following snippet from the FCC Part 95, Subpart E, 95.1733 (9) which is sub-titled "Prohibited GMRS uses":



[...begin FCC Part 95 (March 30, 2018 edition) excerpt...]


"(a) in addition to the prohibited uses outlined in 95.333 of this chapter, GMRS stations must not communicate:


[...(1) - (8) omitted...]


(9) Messages (except emergency messages) to any station in the Amateur Radio Service, to any unauthorized station, or to any foreign station;"


[ ...end of excerpt...]



I'm curious why the FCC calls out the Amateur Radio Service specifically.  An Amateur Station shouldn't be operating on a GMRS frequency anyhow.  


If a ham receives the message traffic using a valid GMRS license on a radio authorized for GMRS operation and then later relays the message traffic using Amateur Radio equipment on amateur bands is this prohibited by the FCC?  


Or is the prohibition being directed only at an Amateur station operating on GMRS frequencies without a GMRS license and GMRS equipment?

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I think there are two parts to this answer. The first has to do with emcoms, "(except emergency messages)" Basically, aside from drills, if you're using ARES or RACES you are considered emergency traffic and should have priority on a particular frequency or repeater in the ham band. If an operator holds two licenses and an outside agency [For example CERT] is using GMRS that traffic may be re-transmitted between the two sides by use of mouth [no automatic relay/cross repeater.] The same rules apply in that personal information may not be transmitted, and you can not transmit information for profit. Further, if I recall, unlike RACES/ARES where they can take over a designated ham repeater for operation, CERT is NOT allowed to take over a given frequency and must allow other users to communicate on the channel.

The second part of the answer I believe means you can not have automatic control of a relay system that allows users of the two separate license classes to co-mingle, or, to put in English, you cant have a radio system that allows GMRS users to TX on the ham bands, or ham users to TX on the GMRS/MURS frequencies. This is to prevent unauthorized and unlicensed transmissions on either side.

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I actually do precisely this whenever our local ham club and local GMRS club conduct "joint emcom nets". Since I am a licensed GMRS station as well as a licensed amateur operator, I handle the 'test message' traffic from one group to the other...


I just have to remember which 'hat' I'm wearing whenever I grab for the mic! :D

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  • 9 months later...

The rules of both GMRS and Amateur Radio prohibit communicating outside their respective frequencies except in emergencies.


SImply put, an Amateur Station can not listen to a GMRS station, and the GMRS station listen to an Amateur Station for the exchange of messages (traffic) by each transmitting on their respective frequencies; aka cross service communications.


It is perfectly legal for a GMRS station to exhange traffic with another GMRS  station, and then if they are also licensed in the Amateur Radio Service to forward that message across Amateur frequencies; also a message from a GMRS operator can be verbally or written passed to an Amateur operator for them to retransmit the message on Amateur frequencies. All assuming the message content does not violate the rules of their respective services.

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  • 2 months later...

My take on the section is a receiver for either service may not be connected to a transmitter of the other service. In other words, a cross-service repeater. Put a human operator in the middle and the sceario changes as there is no direct interconnection.

At our EOC we have both Amateur and GMRS stations sitting side-by-side the other stations for fire and LEO.


When I'm on duty, I operate both ham and GMRS stations since I'm licensed for both. Whenever I'm off-duty or on a break, two appropriately licensed operators man those two stations.


In either case, since all messages have to be properly recorded on paper message forms and logged, they are simply passed from one operator to the other operator.

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There's no regulation of receivers in Part 95 ir 97; receivers are Part 15 devices, and receive that treatment when integrated into type-approved devices (aside from ensuring the receiver at least permits effective two-way operation, for Part 95). An Amateur station can listen to GMRS all day long, and vice-versa. Amateur operators can relay information to GMRS if the operator holds both respective licenses, and an Amateur operator can have a GMRS operator retransmit information and vice-versa. Interconnecting two transmitters between services is not allowed, be it by a direct interface, RF/TCP link, receiver monitoring the other service, remote base, or phone patch. It's an odd way of preventing unlicensed operators of transmitting on GMRS since license authorizations are mutually exclusive and callsigns (station identification procedure) is different between the services. Operator distress special operation under 97.405(a) appears to be the only case where a direct interconnection would be permitted; a GMRS license does not explicitly allow communication outside its service for emergency traffic. Grandfathered business GMRS licenses are probably why we don't see similar Part 90 restrictions.

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