Subject: Walkie-Talkies Overseas

Bad news is that we can't legally use those little walkie- talkies outside the US.

If you want the full story, see: Invite to Yahoo! 360 Seems that two way radios made for use in the US Family Radio Service [FRS] can ONLY be used in the territorial US or in other areas where the Federal Communications Commission [FCC] has jurisdiction over communications matters. US FRS radios CANNOT under any circumstances be used in Africa, Europe, Asia, Mexico, Australia, Canada, or anywhere else. Why? Because the frequencies the US FRS uses have no equivalent service on the same radio frequencies in other countries. The license free radios from other countries operate on different frequencies and cannot legally be used in the US.

Same goes for the General Mobile Radio Service [GMRS] higher-powered walkie-talkies. In some European countries, the US FRS/GMRS frequencies are used for military and government communications with reportedly drastic penalties for offenders when caught.

And don't even use any GMRS radios in the US unless you have paid $75 to the FCC for the 5-year GMRS license. Fines and other sanctions apply.

Good news is that there are two affordable alternatives.

One is to become Technician-class Amateur Radio operators. No Morse code to learn; just answer 27 out of 35 multiple- choice questions from a public test bank and you are a Ham. Thanks to various treaties, you can operate legally in most countries without any special permission or licensing or cost. Air time is free. Hundreds of frequencies to use. Basic radios cost as little as $75. And there's the added bonus of being able to contact local Hams for info and assistance. Details at

The second alternative is a cell phone. Google the Mobalphone web site and see if they have any refurbished GSM overseas cell phones available for free. Otherwise, their new phones are an affordable $50 each.

Mobalphones, like most other overseas phones, operate on 900 and 1800 megaHertz frequencies. They won't work in the US/Canada where cell phones operate on the 800 and 1900 mHz bands. Which means that a two-band US/Canada phone won't work in most other countries either.

Once you buy a Mobalphone, it is yours to keep forever and comes with a permanent UK phone number (which means that incoming calls in the UK are free) to give to family and friends. No monthly fees, no SIM cards to buy, no prepaid time to expire. Just $1.50 per usage minute which will be charged to your credit card. Last time I checked, this was comparable with what most US cell providers charged for overseas roaming with their so-called multiband "world phone."

We've used our Mobalphone in UK and Italy and it worked great. When not using it, we loan it to traveling friends.

Jerry in E TN