GMRS vs HAM: Know The Actual Difference Between Them

If you have landed on this article, then there are very high chances that you are someone who is fascinated by radio communications. More specifically, you may be confused between two types of radio services; but do not worry because we are here to take care of all your confusion regarding this matter.

With so many types of radio services, one can easily be bewildered and overwhelmed by the barrage of information.

So today, we will be breaking down GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) and ham radio, which may also be known as amateur radio. With proper overviews of the two types of radio and the separate section for the comparisons, your concept should be crystal clear.

And so, without further ado, let’s get right into this GMRS vs. ham comparison guide!

Overview of GMRS – General Mobile Radio Service

General Mobile Radio Service - GMRS

GMRS is a licensed radio service that is mostly used for two way vocal, short-distance communication.

It is a land-mobile FM UHF radio that is used with handheld devices, repeater systems, and of course, mobile radios. FCC confirmed that they have also enabled to send short data messages using GMRS, which makes its functionality even better.

In addition to the messaging function, you can also send GPS information for emergencies. You may notice that this type of radio service has uses resembling CBRS, FRS, and MRS, needless to say, which are radio services as well.

And GMRS is available to a single person to contact their immediate close family members as well as other valid licensees who are within a short distance. The frequency range over which GMRS works is about 462MHz and 467 MHz

To get access to GMRS, you must have a license in the United States, but some devices will let you use this radio service without a license specifically in Canada.

General mobile radio service is well known for its portability because, as previously mentioned, it is handheld.

The number of frequency channels of GMRS sums to a total of 30 channels, and among these 30 channels, 22 channels are shared with FRS, which allows the users of the two radio services to communicate with each other.

Overview of Ham Radio


Ham radio is widely known as amateur radio, and it is a radio service that mostly caters to a large group of hobbyists, and it brings people together by electronic communication. It is used to talk from one town to another and even across the world, and everything obviously works without the internet and cell phone.

Amateur radio is also well known for its ease of setup. Hence it is more popular than a lot of other radio services amongst the general crowd. Ham radio is interchangeable with the term ‘amateur radio’ because it is used for completely non-commercial purposes.

Therefore, ham radio operators can be anyone from someone very tech-savvy to your regular old neighbor. Since ham is for regular people, it is not essential to learn morse code.

A lot like many other radio services, to use ham radio, you must pass a government test and get a ham license to certify that you have sufficient radio knowledge.

And a good thing about this radio service is that it can be used over very long distances due to the use of satellites, and you can communicate with it via your voice, messages, and even images!

Moreover, ham radio is limited to a specific small number of frequency bands, so it doesn’t interfere with professional and commercial frequencies. It is available in almost every country in the world, and as of today, there are actually millions of people using this amateur radio on a regular basis.

GMRS vs. HAM: Key Differences Discussed

Let’s put them against each other and compare their features.


Being generally used by professionals and for emergency two-way communication, GMRS has a narrow range of frequency bands from 462-467MHz.

Meanwhile, ham has a wide range from 1.6 MHz to 27 MHz, although the ideal frequency during daytime is from 15 to 27 MHz, and at night time, it is from 1.6 to 15 MHz for long-distance communications.

As a result of a large number of radio bands, the radio one can use with ham radio service can vary greatly. However, for GMRS, the narrow range of frequency creates a lot of restrictions for the user.


While both the radios require a license, the situation varies a bit for the two radio services. For GMRS, getting hold of the license is surprisingly easy. You just pay the license fee to FCC, and you get the license without any hassle.

However, with ham radio, you must pass one or sometimes even more than one test to qualify for a ham license.

With GMRS and ham, the licensees can only communicate with other valid licensees. One person can acquire both radio licenses if it is required. Another thing to note is that GMRS can be accessed within a limited number of countries, whereas ham can be used almost all around the world.


A major difference between the ham and GMRS is that GMRS is suitable for short distances only, whereas amateur radio can be used for long distances. You can also use it to communicate with someone from all the way across the world.

Ham radio is used with a lot of repeaters that allow a higher power signal to be sent over such a long distance. On the contrary, the use of GMRS is rarely used with repeaters, which is why the range of its distance is much lower than ham.

You should also keep in mind that GMRS is only for two-way communication between immediate family members, whereas ham radio service is for general purpose and can be used to communicate with public safety services in case of any emergencies.

Unlike GMRS, as previously mentioned, ham radio is popular amongst the public because it is often used for radio contesting and radio propagation study by hobbyists.

Final Words

After going through this article, we hope your confusion has been kicked out of your head, and you have a thorough idea about the GMRS vs ham radio similarities and differences. If you are still a bit puzzled, then feel free to drop down your questions in the comments section below!