8. Bands and Use Restrictions
Without an Amateur Radio License from the FCC, you are limited to operating on the FRS (Family Radio Service) band for free or on the GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) band (with a $90 family license from the FCC).
9. Range of Coverage
Depending on the output power of the radio, you can expect anywhere from 1 mile to over 3 miles depending on wattage, antenna, weather conditions and surrounding environments. You’ll get more distance in your communication if you’re transmitting in a flat, open area, or from a high elevation area to a low elevation area. You’ll get less distance in communication if you’re transmitting in an urban environment, or forest, as the more barriers your signal gets deflected off of or has to penetrate through, the shorter your transmission will reach.
10. On the walkie-talkie channel
Channels are pre-programmed avenues for communication made up of frequencies with or without privacy codes. Most radios have 16 or more channels available. Once programmed, channels can be accessed easily by the channel selection feature available on all radios.
11. Privacy Codes
If you would like to converse without interference, you may want to use Privacy Codes. Privacy codes, also called CTCSS or DCS are a method of splitting the channel or frequency, in order to get more use out of the frequency. Privacy codes can sometimes be programmed through the keypad on a walkie talkie, or can easily be programmed using the software and programming computer cable.
12. Calling and Paging Features
Digital Radios often feature more robust and advanced features other than the simple Push to Talk. Digital Radios are able to call a group of people, an individual person, or all radios on the timeslot. This can be very useful if you are working with private or sensitive information, or if you are interested in having a private conversation, inaccessible to those around your area.