The Family Radio Service is an unlicensed personal communication service authorized in 1996, initially consisting of seven narrowband “splinter” frequencies in-between the eight 462 MHz GMRS channels, it was expanded in 2017 with the addition of 15 additional channels, eight of which are shared with GMRS.  The power level was also increased to two watts on the 15 462 MHz channels, but remained 0.5 watt on the seven 467 channels. 

The new FRS service was initially proposed by Radio Shack in 1994. The company had previously sold Part 15, license-free walkie talkies on the 49 MHz and 27 MHz bands, and were interested in an improved personal communication service for their customers. When the service was authorized two years later, only 14 channels were authorized with a maximum power of 0.5 watt. Radio Shack began selling walkie talkies a year later:  a single-channel radio with 0.1 watt power, a 14-channel handheld with 0.3 watt output, and a 14-channel transceiver with the full 0.5 watt rating. Being a new technology, all three were nearly as expensive as the licensed business band radios they sold. 

The Federal Communications Commission was acquainted with low power handhelds operating on the UHF radio spectrum, having authorized a Class B service to operate on the existing Class A (currently referred to as GMRS) frequencies in 1948, but the technology had not advanced to the level where the walkie talkies could be cheaply produced. Class B was discontinued about 15 years later, in part for this reason. 

Recognizing the amount of trade and tourism with the United States, Mexico authorized an unlicensed personal communication service similar to FRS in 1998. However, the Mexican FRS service only recognizes the 14 narrowband channels, and not the additional 8 GMRS channels, which are allocated for another purpose in that country. In addition, the maximum output power is 0.5 watt on all channels. 

Since U.S. FRS walkie talkies are designed to operate with additional frequencies and at higher power levels, extreme care must be taken when using them on Mexican soil. Only the 467 MHz channels are in compliance with the technical standards established by the Mexican government.