Free band CB Radio is the use of frequencies or channels that are not
designated to the CB Radio service for use as "private" channels or
for attempting long distance contacts (DX). These free band channels run from
26.000 MHz up to channel 1 (26.965 MHz) and from above channel 40 (27.405 MHz)
to the edge of the 10 Meter ham band (28.000 MHz).
During high sunspot
cycles, it is not uncommon to hear many, many stations on these frequencies
communicating with stations in other states and even other countries. There are
even radio clubs that support these activities. There is just one problem. It is
a violation of FCC rules to operate on these free band frequencies! So why do so
many do it?
One reason, and probably
the biggest, is that the legal 40 channels can be so crowded that it is nearly
impossible to communicate even across town. Many have taken to the free band
frequencies in order to simply communicate. Still others are simply using
these frequencies for improved privacy from regular CB people, they enjoy less
agitation from trouble makers. Nevertheless, it is a popular activity regardless
of the reason.
Another compelling reason for
unauthorized frequency operation is that countries other than the US are
authorized on frequencies outside the 26.965 to 27.405 MHz US allocation. Some
operators enjoy DX contacts with those operating from other countries and find
it necessary to transmit out-of-band.
So how do
the "smart" operators avoid problems with the FCC? One way would be
not to run excessive power. Another is to keep your conversations civil
without profanity or other rudeness. Still another is to avoid frequencies that
are used by legitimate operators such as the ones in this table. Interference to
legitimate users may attract the FCC's attention very quickly, especially if it
deals with public safety.
Frequencies To Stay Away From
Frequency - User
25.670-26.100 - Broadcast remotes
26.617 - Civil Air Patrol (CAP)
27.430, 27.450, 27.490, 27.510, 27.530 - Business
27.870, 27.920, 27.974 - US Navy-MARS
28.000 -29.700 - 10 Meter Ham Band
There have been many attempts in the past
to get the FCC to increase the number of channels in the CB band without avail.
The last channel increase occurred in 1977 when the band was increased from 23
channels to 40. At the time this helped with congestion but since then more
operators have joined the CB ranks creating even further congestion.
Presently CB radio is again becoming very
popular. Many radio manufacturers have begun producing new models so we can
expect to see even more operators in this tiny slice of radio spectrum. As time
goes on, we may see enough pressure placed on the FCC to once again increase the
CB radio band. But until then, we've only got 40 legal ones!
Rough list of known Frequency
Allocations in the 25-30 MHz Spectrum (legal users).
Rough list of known list of Freeband
Users in the 25-30 MHz
Spectrum (illegal users)