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A new 2-way radio: Motorola, Tandy target families.

FORT WORTH, Texas--RadioShack has received approval from the FCC to establish a new unlicensed two-way voice radio service, and is working with Motorola to create a new category of voice communication devices specifically targeting families.

The new products, which are manufactured by Motorola, are like walkie-talkies but smaller and less expensive. They will work on a service called the Family Radio Service, or FRS. The new service works on the UHF frequency, which the FCC has opened for use by consumers without a license as a result of a petition that Tandy Corp.'s RadioShack filed in July 1994.

Most walkie-talkies, which are used for business purposes, require licenses to operate.

Some two-way radios on the market today--such as CB radios--can be operated without a license, but the frequencies they work on are congested.

The FRS frequency, according to RadioShack, is generally free of unwanted interference common in the overcrowded citizens band frequencies. FRS will share frequency with General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) products, such as walkie talkies.

FRS will allow for short-distance transmissions of a mile or two. RadioShack and Motorola are targeting families who need to stay in touch at all times, and say the devices can be especially useful at sporting events, shopping malls and amusement parks.

"The Family Radio Service proposed by RadioShack is in response to the growing public demand for an affordable and convenient means of direct communication between individuals and families. The FCC's approval has made this possible," said Leonard Roberts, RadioShack president.

The devices, which are being designed and manufactured by Motorola's Land Mobile Products Sector in Schaumburg, Ill., are 7-ounce palm-size half-watt transceivers with a short antenna.

RadioShack, which will offer three models ranging in price from $99 to $159, expects to have product on the shelves by Christmas at all of its stores.

Motorola plans to have two models, at $139 and $169, available at specialty sporting goods stores by September.

Bob Miller, vice president of procurement and product development at RadioShack, said the company believes the products will appeal to public safety groups, such as Neighborhood Watch Programs, that are looking for a low-cost tool to combat crime.

"What this means is that anyone with the need to communicate over a short distance can now do so," said Miller.

Miller said RadioShack sells a lot of walkie talkies, "but they are much more expensive and less suitable for the kind of communication that people need."

The new devices are much smaller than walkie talkies, according to Miller, who said the largest of the three new units are 40 percent smaller than a traditional walkie talkie, while the smallest is one-quarter the size.

RadioShack's devices will all be black, but differ slightly in appearance. The high-end model will be geared to conventional walkie talkie users such as hunters and fishermen; a second model, which looks similar to a cellphone, will target families and neighborhood watch programs. A third basic model will also be available.

Products sold through RadioShack stores will be branded RadioShack but bear the Motorola logo on the antenna.

Tim Mason, national sales manager for Motorola's land mobile division, said its devices, of which there will be two, will be sold initially at sporting goods stores, followed by distribution through Motorola's current base of retailers.

The two products will look basically the same as the RadioShack devices, but will also be available in several colors, including hunter green and yellow.

"We see this as a shortrange activity-based communications device," said Mason, noting people are doing a lot more recreational activities with their families these days.

According to Mason, there are 14 available channels in the UHF frequency that FRS uses. The first products will offer the ability to select among seven channels; future products will be able to communicate on all 14.

With the current technology, users will be able to block out the sound of other people's conversations through an "interference eliminator" feature.
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Title Annotation:Tandy-Radio Shack, Family Radio Service walkie-talkies
Author:Silberg, Lurie
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Article Type:Product Announcement
Date:Jul 15, 1996
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