CB or Citizens Band radio has been around since the 1940s. The FCC controls the CB radio since then. It is a communication mode used for both personal and business operations, as well as controlling model aircraft.
CB equipment costs less than other types of radios, and it is legal to use without waiting for a license. The various CB frequency channels are used for various purposes.
What Are CB Radio Frequencies?
There are 40 CB channels with their corresponding frequencies. The following table will show all the 40 CB channels with their frequencies, as well as the customary use of each of these channels.
|CB Channel||Customary Use|
|26.96500||CB Channel 01||open to all|
|26.97500||CB Channel 02||open to all|
|26.98500||CB Channel 03||open to all|
|27.00500||CB Channel 04||open to all – 4×4 channel|
|27.01500||CB Channel 05||open to all|
|27.02500||CB Channel 06||open to all|
|27.03500||CB Channel 07||open to all|
|27.05500||CB Channel 08||open to all|
|27.06500||CB Channel 09||Emergency|
|27.07500||CB Channel 10||open to all – regional roads|
|27.08500||CB Channel 11||open to all|
|27.10500||CB Channel 12||open to all|
|27.11500||CB Channel 13||open to all – marine, RV|
|27.12500||CB Channel 14||open to all – walkie talkies|
|27.13500||CB Channel 15||open to all|
|27.15500||CB Channel 16||open to all (also SSB)|
|27.16500||CB Channel 17||open to all – North/South Traffic|
|27.17500||CB Channel 18||open to all|
|27.18500||CB Channel 19||Truckers-East/West Hwy Traffic|
|27.20500||CB Channel 20||open to all|
|27.21500||CB Channel 21||open to all – regional roads|
|27.22500||CB Channel 22||open to all|
|27.25500||CB Channel 23||open to all|
|27.23500||CB Channel 24||open to all|
|27.24500||CB Channel 25||open to all|
|27.26500||CB Channel 26||open to all|
|27.27500||CB Channel 27||open to all|
|27.28500||CB Channel 28||open to all|
|27.29500||CB Channel 29||open to all|
|27.30500||CB Channel 30||open to all|
|27.31500||CB Channel 31||open to all|
|27.32500||CB Channel 32||open to all|
|27.33500||CB Channel 33||open to all|
|27.34500||CB Channel 34||open to all|
|27.35500||CB Channel 35||open to all|
|27.36500||CB Channel 36||open to all (also SSB)|
|27.37500||CB Channel 37||open to all (also SSB)|
|27.38500||CB Channel 38||open to all (also SSB, LSB)|
|27.39500||CB Channel 39||open to all (also SSB)|
|27.40500||CB Channel 40||
open to all (also SSB)
All authorized CB radio frequencies are opened to all. Some of them do have some special purposes to serve. For example, channel 9 is specifically used for emergencies in the US. Channel 19, on the other hand, is for the truckers to report about traffic. This channel has the best efficiency being in the middle of the band.
This channel has lost users since the innovation of cellphones, but even so, some rural communities still keep tabs on that channel for emergency calls. Specialized channels take heed from other contributors. Listeners are also welcome.
Beginners can start off by listening to the CB radio frequencies, especially on channel 19. Truckers have their own nicknames and jargon they go by, and many of them don’t let non-truckers get into that channel.
Don’t make yourself feel unwelcome by using too much jargon or misusing them. Doing either makes you an outsider. Believe it or not, they might even bully you out of the channel for doing so.
Now let us look at some other important factors related to the CB radio frequencies. As a beginner, these might come in handy for you.
Single Sideband Modulation or SSB is what uses the bandwidth and transmitter power more efficiently. We’ve got an article about the best SSB radios on the market.
Above and Below the CB Channels
The band at 27.430, 27.450, 27.470, 27.490, 27.510, and 27.530 MHz are channels used for Business Radio Service. This type of service is part of the UHF and the VHF 2-way radio bands. These are reserved only for commercial uses, mainly by companies, as well as religious, educational and health institutes.
From 27.540 up to 28.000, it is reserved for the federal government. CB users with modified equipment can use the frequencies illegally, such as from 27.575 and 27.585. Frequencies from 26.480 to 26.960, which belong to the US military is often used illegally by some CB radio users as well.
The Civil Air Patrol uses 26.620 MHz, although the CAP uses the VHF frequencies more regularly. The Ham band runs from 28.000 to 29.700 MHz frequencies.
Illegal CB Radio Frequencies
As mentioned above, there are handheld CB radio users with modified devices who like to use channels illegally. Any frequency of 28.000 MHz and above are out of the CB channels range even with the best cb antenna.
This is for the licensed radio operators with Amateur Radio (Ham). They use it exclusively for Morse Code. A modified export CB radio lets you go into the illegal frequencies.
For example, if you get the Galaxy, the 19 high settings can put you at the 28.085 frequency. While talking on that particular frequency, you will be noticeable to the Official Observers of the Amateur Radio community.
Thye will need to break their own band rules to notify you. This is because voiceover is not allowed at that frequency, even for those using licensed amateur radio. They will most likely report you the FCC with evidence.
The FCC can then fine the companies of the truckers, causing the trucker to lose their job. To not bring upon such misfortune, make sure to stay within the 40 channels.
Only the licensed operators are allowed to use the Amateur Radio’s 10-meter range with a modified CB radio. The ones sold in the US are labeled as ‘FCC Approved.’
All radio users, including the ham radio operators, are supposed to use only the FCC approved radios made for channels 1 to 40 legally. These are also open for modification, but it is a difficult task.
It does sound like something fun and interesting to do, but don’t get involved in this business. Freebanding or Outbanding on random channels or frequencies is a term used for the operator who uses the channels or frequencies within an 11 meter, which is above or below the 10 kHz frequency illegally.
Many channels outside the 10 kHz frequency are private. Those with proper authorization and a license can use them. But that doesn’t stop everyone from using the channels illegally.
The international call frequencies of 27.555 and 26.285 are unauthorized. It is commonplace for the long-distance operators to reach out to each other or receive calls from other stations. Talking is not permitted in these frequencies. Listening on these channels is alright, but no talking.
There are 2 reasons why freebanding is illegal and goes against the FCC regulations.
- CB radio channels need to be open in cases of emergencies.
- Illegal transmitters and amplifiers are made poorly, which causes distortion or splatter on a frequency. This makes disruptions in important communications.
How Is Freebanding Done?
CB radio users doing freebanding generally do it by one of the two ways:
- They get a CB radio with frequencies that are legal in other countries but illegal in the US
- Users modify amateur radios to use those channels illegally
Even with the ban by FCC for marking and selling any CB radios that can be modified, clever radio operators are still capable of rigging up almost any amateur radios. They can easily reach the off-limit frequencies with their rigged-up radios.
Because the 40 channels open for use in the US can become overcrowded at times, especially during special occasions or in cases of national emergencies when everyone wants to reach out to others.
This is why many radio users do freebanding. A frequency below the 40 channels is often quiet, as not many are using it illegally.
Some radio operators do freebanding just for the sake of it. Getting news from other parts of the country or from somewhere around the world is fun.
Sometimes they do it only because they like doing forbidden things. But if you get caught by one of the licensed users (And you WILL get caught), there will be serious consequences.
You will, at first, get issued a Notice of Apparent Liability or NAL. If you respond to this quickly, you might avoid getting a fine. But for continuous use of illegal frequencies, there are some severe punishments such as:
- A fine of $10,000
- Equipment seizure
- License suspension, even for other FCC regulated services
So rather than venturing out to the forbidden world, stay within the 40 CB channels to continue using the radio. Don’t buy radios from shady dealers. To stay legal, it is best to buy an American made CB radio with FCC certification.
Use the Right CB Radio Frequencies!
As long as you stay within the permitted radio frequencies, you are free to use the CB radio channels as per your wish. Reach out to others while in need and provide information when needed, and you will be satisfied using the CB radio frequencies.