Some people have bought walkie-talkies as a means to solve their communication problems. There are two kinds which are commonly available to the average person. The first kind of walkie-talkie is a family radio service (FRS). They are relatively inexpensive, about $10 to $20 a pair. However, if you read the newspaper ads carefully, you may be able to find FRS walkie-talkies on-sale or even free-after-rebate. FRSs do not require a permit.
The more advanced version of the FRS called the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). More recent models of GMRS walkie-talkie include FRS. If the consumer uses the GMRS on FRS channels (462.5625-467.7125 mhz), then s/he can function under FRS rules, using 500 milliwatts (½ watt) of power. No permit is required under this use.
However, if you operate under GMRS rules the in the 462-467mhz band, your walkie talkie will probably put out between 1 to 5 watts with mobile radios putting out up to 50 watts. If an external antenna is used, it must be no higher than 20 feet off the ground or structure on which the antenna is mounted. As a GMRS user, you are required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates telecommunication in the U.S. to have a permit. At present a GMRS permit costs $80:
These permits are issued for five years and are renewable. Members of the immediate family of a licensee may operate under the same license. Those caught engaging in unlicensed transmissions, the fine is $10,000/ per transmission.
GMRSs are intended to be used by families communicating inside their neighborhood or during recreational activities. These entry-level radios typically cost about $30 to $60 a pair. There are GMRS radios which are more expensive and less available to the average consumer, which are capable more power and can use detachable antenna. For more information on GMRS try these sites (Note - this is not a recommendation or endorsement of these sites or their accuracy). http://www.provide.net/~prsg/wi-gmrs.htm or http://www.popularwireless.com/gmrsfaqa.html or http://www.commtechreview.net/frsradio/
For product reviews see: http://www.gearreview.com/frsreview98.asp Note the GMRS radios reviewed are as expensive as more powerful and sophisticated ham radios.
Some GMRSs have more features, at additional cost. Having a GPS and weather radio inside your GMRS is very useful in an emergency.
The range of the more advanced GMRSs, not the walkie-talkies most consumers can buy at a mass discounter or electronics store, can be extended by a repeater, a station located on a mountain top, tower, or high building, which will receive one’s signal, boost the strength by re-transmitting out through an amplifier. For information on repeaters see - http://www.g-m-r-s.org/ or http://www.provide.net/~prsg/guide.htm
However these repeaters typically require one subscribe and often pay a fee.