A comparison of FRS, GMRS, CB, MURS, and Amateur Radio

Here is a comparison chart:

FRS GMRS CB Amateur Radio MURS
Bands available 1 (462/467 MHz) 1 (462/467 MHz) 1 (29 MHz) (see note 1) 1 (151 MHz)
Simplex channels 14 (see note 2) 22 (see note 2) 40 (see note 3) 5 (See note 7)
Maximum power (PEP) 0.5 watts 50 watts (5 watts on channels shared with FRS) 12 watts 1,500 watts 2 watts
Repeaters? No Yes No Yes No
Modes? FM FM AM, SSB AM, FM, SSB, CW, digital, VoIP, TV AM, FM
FCC Rule Part Part 95(B) Part 95(A) Part 95(D) Part 97 Part 95(J)
Radio Certification Required? Yes Yes (see note 4) Yes No (see note 5) Yes
License required? No (See note 6) Yes No (See note 6) Yes No (See note 6)
Who is covered by license? N/A Yourself, your spouse, your family N/A Yourself only N/A
License cost? N/A $65 N/A $15 N/A
Exam required for license? N/A No N/A Yes N/A
More info: FRS GMRS CB Amateur Radio MURS
  1. Bands vary based on your license class. At least 8 bands (28 / 50 / 144 / 222 / 420 / 902 / 1240 / 2300 MHz and up) are available with a technician class license. See the ARRL frequency chart for details. This does not include technician CW-only or SSB-only frequency ranges, nor the HF band frequencies available to upgraded General or Extra class licenses. 
  2. Certain simplex channels are shared between FRS and GMRS, with power restrictions.
  3. Ham radio is not channelized, but there are (roughly) 72 available non-overlapping FM simplex frequencies among the 28 / 50 / 144 / 222 / 420 / 902 / 1240 / 2300 MHz bands available to use with a technician class license. This number does not include FM repeater frequencies, nor the HF band frequencies available to upgraded General or Extra class licenses. See the ARRL band plan for details.
  4. The FCC has allowed radios having Part 90 certification to operate on GMRS as long as they meet the technical emission standards.
  5. Part 15 or Part 90 radios are required if receiving outside of the ham bands. Any radio can be legally modified to operate within the ham bands. Homebrew equipment is allowed.
  6. These services are “license by rule”, meaning that as long as you follow the rules, you are “licensed” to use the service. If you break the rules, you lose your license to use the service. No formal licensing is required. 
  7. MURS channels 4 and 5 have been previously allocated to businesses, and may still be used on a grandfathered basis. Where there is a business using either of those 2 channels, they are the primary user and you may be limited to using the other channels.