In 1983, Ritron introduced the JobCom brand two-way radio. It was the first low-cost handheld produced for the mass market. These products were marketed through Sam’s Wholesale Club (among other retailers), and were widely purchased by businesses and individuals.
The radios operated on several notionwide itinerant channels, each represented by a colored dot, so multiple radios would have a common frequency. They were business band radios, and included an application which required a $70.00 fee to be attached when the completed form was sent to the Federal Communications Commission for licensing. Needless to say, most of these forms, with the accompanying fee, were never sent in.
The Commission solved this problem in 2000 by authorizing the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), which used two of the “color dot” channels with three additional channels in the 151 MHz range. The maximum output power is two watts. Unlike the Family Radio Service, both businesses and individuals meet the eligibility requirements for the Multi-Use Radio Service.
The Multi-Use Radio Service is an unlicensed radio service, which means anyone can use it without a license from the Federal Communications Commission. Although this would seem to create an uncoordinated space where anything goes, that is not reality since regulations have been established for use. You can read them yourself in Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 95.2701-2779.
MURS is in many ways similar to the Class E Citizens Band radio service that the late Wayne Green, W2NSD, proposed back in the 1970s. Some characteristics that set it apart from the companion Family Radio Service (discussed elsewhere) are that an external antenna can be used, which match the same specifications of the Class D Citizens Band radio service: a maximum of 60 feet above ground or 20 feet above a man-made structure. This makes it ideal for calling the kids home from the neighborhood for dinner, as well as other outdoor recreational activities. The longer wavelength of the signal translates into greater range in open spaces, but less penetration in buildings or other structures.
Although the Multi-Use Radio Service lends itself to a number of family, personal, business and recreational activities on land, it’s use on a cruise may be limited by decreased performance on the ship and inability to use in foreign ports of call. MURS radios can only be legally used in the United States, terrotories, possessions, and International waters.