We take communication for granted because if we want to talk to someone we have multiple ways of contacting them: home phones, cell phones, email, and instant messaging. We are used to instant gratification by calling or texting and pretty much getting an immediate response from virtually everyone on our contact list. But after all the electronic infrastructure is gone, how will we get in contact with people? Cell phones, landlines, and the internet will be useless. However there are multiple radio options. Which ones will be of the best use and which ones will be basically useless?
General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), Family Radio Service (FRS) and Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) use basic handheld radios that are available commercially with pre-programmed frequencies. The person responsible for the GMRS radio must be licensed by the FCC, while FRS and MURS users do not require a license. These are all basically high end walkie talkies. The upside: easy to use, inexpensive and requires no training. The down side: there are only 23 channels on GMRS, 14 on FRS and 5 on MURS and when all other forms of communications are unavailable they will be overloaded and basically useless. Another drawback is that they are basically line of site communication only. In other words, you will have to be very close to who you want to speak to for them to hear you.
Citizen Band (CB) is a step up from the previously mentioned radio communication possibilities. CB radio is easy to use and requires no training or license. CB allows communication on 40 pre-programmed frequencies. Like the other radio options the major problem is with the limited number of frequencies, they will be overloaded. Range is also limited to around 2 to 5 miles.
The GMRS, FRS, and MURS systems are only useful for small groups to communicate with each other while they are in proximity of each other. They are not useful to communicate with other groups or people outside your immediate area. CB radio falls in the same category. Other forms of radio communications which are utilized by police, fire, EMS and military require outside equipment such as repeaters and infrastructure to operate properly. In other words the radio is rather useless without the other equipment that you have no control over (or might not be able to acquire).
Amateur Radio (Ham) provides users with the most versatility when considering post SHTF communication scenarios. The positive aspects of Ham radio are many: there are no pre-programmed frequencies, a Ham operator can program the frequencies of their choice. Sure in a functioning government you may only transmit on certain frequencies but after T-SHTF an experienced Ham operator may use any frequency they wish. Other pros: range is unlimited, many Ham operators contact people around the world and you can pick up weather channels and short wave frequencies. The downside: an FCC license is needed, users much pass a written test to prove they are worthy. Additionally equipment is more expensive.