Becoming more and more popular in Australia are the low power UHF hand-held radio's commonly being sold as:
- UHF Communicators;
- Hand-held Communicator;
- UHF Personal Radio Service (PRS);
- UHF FRS Radio;
- 40 or 80 Channel Pocket Radio;
- UHF Pocket Radio;
- UHF Transceiver;
- Licence-free UHF.
and the list goes on. One thing these sets have in common is that they are 40 or (now days) 80 Channel units, which is often included in the description. Some sets also have “CTCSS” or “interference eliminator”, which is also called “38 sub-channels”. Some also have “duplex” or “repeater” mode, also referred to as “range extender” capability.
These sets also come in various power ratings, which is also often included in the description such as “0.25W”, “0.5W”, “1W”, “1.5W”, “2W”, etc up to “5W”. Generally the higher the power rating the more expensive the set, with the lowest powered sets usually sold as “toys” for kids for around $20 each.
These sets all operate on the UHF CB band in Australia!
This band is open to anyone to use and is a shared resource. Although no individual licence is needed (hence the term “licence-free”), the band is far from “licence free”. ALL people using the band are automatically covered by a “Class Licence” that governs use of the channels and even what channels can be used for what purpose. Misuse of the band contrary to the conditions specified in the Class Licence, or the Radiocommunications Act or Regulation, can lead to heavy penalties under the federal legislation.
Unfortunately this information is often not included in the user guides of some of the cheaper sets and many people simply don’t realise that these sets operate on the CB band and that certain channels are reserved for specific uses. In some extreme cases this has lead to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) tracking stations causing interference and issuing infringement notices or proceeding with court action.
The legal channel allocation for the UHF CB band in Australia is presented on our CB Channels page, or you can download a PDF file listing the channel allocations so it can be kept handy for future reference.
Australian UHF CB Channel Chart (22 Nov 2011 - broken link now fixed.)
You can also download our Fact Sheets explaining more about CB, the Class Licence and channel allocations.
Parent Safety Message!
These cheap UHF radio units often purchased as “toys” are CB, which means anyone close by cannot only hear but also talk to your children! The sets often incorporate “privacy tones” which give the misconception that by using these the conversation remains private, but nothing could be further from the truth!
“Privacy tones”, also known as CTCSS sub tones, allow the receiver to remain silent until the correct sub-tone is received, however, anyone else listening on the channel and not using sub-tones can hear everything that is being said! Many higher-end units will allow the user to scan automatically for the correct sub-tone, meaning that it would be very easy for another CB user to listen and speak to your children, even if they are making use of the privacy tones.
Children also need to know that these radio units are a shared band with some channels that should be off limits, such as the emergency channels 5 and 35, and repeater input channels (31 to 38 and 71 to 78). If you don’t want your young son or daughter to listen to the often profane conversations of local truckies and other CB users you would be best to keep them away from the Road Channel, Call Channel and local repeater channels as well. Download our channel chart (above) and you will be better able to see which channels are suitable for general chatting.
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