CB Citizens Band Radio Service
Citizens' Band radio (CB) is a system of short distance,
simplex radio communications between individuals on a
selection of 40 channels within the 27 MHz or sometime call
the 11 meter band.
The CB radio service should not be confused with
MURS or amateur
CB Radio History
The Citizens' Band radio service originated in the United States as one of
several personal radio services regulated by the FCC. These services began in
1945 to permit citizens a short distance radio band for personal communication
(e.g., radio controlled models, family communications, individual businesses).
Originally, CB was located in the 460-470 MHz UHF band. There were two classes
of CB: A and B. Class B radios had simpler technical requirements but were
limited to a smaller range of frequencies. Al Gross, inventor of the walkie
talkie, started Citizen's Radio Corp. in the late 1940s to merchandise Class B
handhelds for the general public.
The technology at the time was not advanced enough for UHF radios to be
practical and affordable for the average consumer. So, in 1958, the Class D
CB service was opened at 27 MHz, and this is what is now popularly known as CB.
There were only 23 channels at the time; the first 22 were taken from what used
to be an Amateur 11-meter band, while channel 23 was shared with
In the 1960s, the service was popular with small trade businesses (e.g.,
electricians, plumbers, carpenters), as well as truck drivers and radio
hobbyists. With the advancement of solid-state electronics, the weight, size,
and cost of the radios decreased, giving the general public access to a
communications medium that had previously been only available to specialists.
Many CB clubs were formed and a special CB slang language evolved, used
alongside 10-codes similar to those used in the emergency services.
Following the 1973 oil crisis, the U.S. government imposed a nationwide 55 mph
speed limit, and fuel shortages and rationing were widespread. CB radio was
often used to locate service stations with a supply of gasoline, to notify other
drivers of speed traps, and to organize blockades and convoys in a 1974 strike
protesting the new speed limit and other trucking regulations.
The prominent use of CB radios in 1970s-era films such as
Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and television shows like The Dukes of Hazard
(debuted 1979) bolstered the appeal of CB radio. Moreover, popular novelty songs
such as C.W. McCall's Convoy (1976) helped establish CB radio as a nationwide
craze in the mid to late 1970s.
Originally, CB required a license and the use of a call sign, but when the CB
craze was at its peak, many people ignored this requirement and used made-up
nicknames or 'handles'. The many restrictions on the authorized use of CB radio
led to widespread disregard of the regulations, most notably in antenna height,
distance restriction for communications, licensing and the use of call signs,
and allowable transmitter power. Eventually, the license requirement was dropped
Originally, there were only 23 CB channels in the U.S.; the present 40-channel
band plan did not come along until 1977. Channel 9 was reserved for emergency use
in 1969. Channel 10 was used for highway communications, though channel 19
later became the preferred highway channel in most areas as it did not have
adjacent-channel interference problems with channel 9.
Until 1975, only channels 9-14 and 23 could be used for interstation calls to
other licensees. Channels 1-8 and 15-22 were reserved for intrastation
communications among units under the same license. After the interstation/intrastation
rule was dropped, channel 11 was reserved as a calling frequency for the sole
purpose of establishing communications; however this was withdrawn in 1977.
Until the late 1970s when synthesized radios appeared, CB radios were controlled
by plug-in quartz crystals. Almost all were AM only, though there were a few
single sideband sets in the early days.
Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, a phenomenon was developing over the CB
radio. Similar to the Internet chat rooms a quarter century later, the CB
allowed people to get to know one another in a quasi-anonymous manner. Many
movies and stories about CBers and the culture on-the-air developed.
CB Radio Frequencies
North American/CEPT channels
|Channel 01 : 26.965 MHz
||Channel 11 : 27.085 MHz
||Channel 21 : 27.215 MHz
||Channel 31 : 27.315 MHz
|Channel 02 : 26.975 MHz
||Channel 12 : 27.105 MHz
||Channel 22 : 27.225 MHz
||Channel 32 : 27.325 MHz
|Channel 03 : 26.985 MHz
||Channel 13 : 27.115 MHz
||Channel 23 : 27.255 MHz
||Channel 33 : 27.335 MHz
|Channel 04 : 27.005 MHz
||Channel 14 : 27.125 MHz
||Channel 24 : 27.235 MHz
||Channel 34 : 27.345 MHz
|Channel 05 : 27.015 MHz
||Channel 15 : 27.135 MHz
||Channel 25 : 27.245 MHz
||Channel 35 : 27.355 MHz
|Channel 06 : 27.025 MHz
||Channel 16 : 27.155 MHz
||Channel 26 : 27.265 MHz
||Channel 36 : 27.365 MHz
|Channel 07 : 27.035 MHz
||Channel 17 : 27.165 MHz
||Channel 27 : 27.275 MHz
||Channel 37 : 27.375 MHz
|Channel 08 : 27.055 MHz
||Channel 18 : 27.175 MHz
||Channel 28 : 27.285 MHz
||Channel 38 : 27.385 MHz
|Channel 09 : 27.065 MHz
||Channel 19 : 27.185 MHz
||Channel 29 : 27.295 MHz
||Channel 39 : 27.395 MHz
|Channel 10 : 27.075 MHz
||Channel 20 : 27.205 MHz
||Channel 30 : 27.305 MHz
||Channel 40 : 27.405 MHz
CB Citizens Radio
CB was once the only practical two-way radio system for the individual
consumer and as such served several distinct types of users such as truck
drivers, radio hobbyists and those who needed a short range radio for
particular tasks. While some of these users have moved on to other radio
services, CB is still a popular hobby in many countries. In America it is
strongly associated with semi truck drivers, rural life and radio hobbiests.
It's still a good idea to have a CB Radio with you on a road trip where no
Cellular service is available.
The 27 MHz frequencies used by CBs, which require a long antenna and don't
propagate well indoors, tend to discourage use of handheld radios for many
applications. Many consumer users of handheld radios (ex. family use, hunters,
hikers ) have moved on to 49 MHz and then to the UHF Family Radio Service, while
many who need a simple radio for professional use (ex. tradesmen ) have moved on
to 'dot-color' business radios.
On the other hand, CB is still popular among long-haul truck drivers to
communicate directions, traffic problems, and other things of importance. As a result, CB was more associated with hobbyists than
In the United States, channel 19 is the most commonly used for highway use, to
the point that some radios even have a dedicated button to bring up channel 19.
In some areas of the U.S., different channels are customarily used on highways
running North-South versus East-West, and sometimes even for specific roads.
Other channels regionally used for this purpose include 10, 17, and 21.
Channel 13 is preferred in some areas for marine use and for recreational
Several countries reserve a channel for emergency use, for example channel 9 in
the United States. In CB's heyday in the 1970s, channel 9 was monitored by
parties who could relay messages to the authorities, or even directly by the
authorities themselves. With the popularity of cellular phones, support for
Channel 9 as an emergency channel has diminished, though volunteer organizations
such as REACT (Radio Emergency Associated Communications Teams) and private
individuals still monitor Channel 9 in some areas.
The maximum legal CB power output level, in the U.S., is four watts for AM and
12 watts (peak envelope power or 'PEP') for SSB, as measured at the antenna
connection on the back of the radio.
During periods of peak sunspot activity, even low-powered transmitters on 27 MHz
can sometimes be heard for hundreds or even thousands of miles. This 'skip'
activity, in which signals bounce off the ionosphere, contributes to
interference on CB frequencies.
Radio Service (CB)
The Official FCC Rules and Regulations for CB
Citizens Band Radio
Citizens Band (CB)
Band (CB) Radio Service is a private two-way voice communication
service for use in personal and business activities of the
general public. Its communications range is from one to five
documents are neither needed nor issued and there are no age or
citizenship requirements. As long as you use only an unmodified
FCC certificated CB unit, you are provided authority to operate
a CB unit in places where the FCC regulates radio
provided authority to operate a CB unit in places where the FCC
regulates radio communications, as long as you use only an
unmodified FCC certificated CB unit. An FCC certificated unit
has an identifying label placed on it by the manufacturer.
There are 40 shared CB channels used on a "take-turns" basis.
There are no channels authorized in the CB Radio Service above
27.405 MHz or below 26.965 MHz.
No CB channel is assigned to any specific individual or
organization. Be cooperative. Keep your communications short.
Users must never talk with another station for more than 5
minutes continuously and then must wait at least one minute
before starting another communication. Channel 9 is used only
for emergency communications or for traveler assistance.
must use an FCC certificated CB transmitter at your CB station.
You can identify an FCC certificated transmitter by the
certification label placed on it by the manufacturer.
operate your CB unit within the territorial limits of the fifty
United States, the District of Columbia, and the Caribbean and
Pacific Insular areas U.S. You may also operate your CB on
or over any other area of the world, except within the
territorial limits of areas where radio-communications are
regulated by another agency of the U.S. or within the
territorial limits of any foreign government. You may also be
permitted to use your CB unit in Canada subject to the rules of
Industry Canada. Travelers to the U.S. may operate a CB unit
within the U.S. as long the unit is FCC certificated.
Linear Amplifier Ban
may not raise the power output of their CB units. That would be
unfair to the other users sharing the channel by raising the
level of radio noise. You must not attach a "linear," "linear
amplifier" or any other type of power amplifier to your CB unit,
Moreover, you must not modify your CB unit internally. Doing so
cancels its certification and you forfeit your authorization to
are no height restrictions for antennas mounted on vehicles or
for hand-held units. For structures, the highest point of your
antenna must not be more than 20 feet above the highest point of
the building or tree on which it is mounted, or 60 feet above
the ground. There are lower height limits if your antenna
structure is located within two miles of an airport.
are operating aids used by public safety and other professional
communicators. The FCC does not regulate the meaning of the
ten-codes. You may use an on-the-air pseudonym 'handle' of