A List of CB Radio Channels And Frequencies

CB radio originated in 1940. The (FCC) Federal Communications Commission, which is regulating CB radio still took the band from the amateur radio ham services channel 11 to form a band for personal and business communication, also for controlling model aircraft.

From amateur radio channels, business communication is still banned so CB radio took over that role. As less expensive CB equipment provides the general public a chance to communicate with each other at short distances over different CB frequencies without the expense, study, and then wait to get an FCC license. 

Class A and B radio services started in 1948, they form the basis of the Family Radio Service. After 10 years class D was established, it became the forerunner of CB radio.

CB radio channel has expanded. Class D started with only 23 channels but more channels were added to bring CB to the current 40 channel in the year 1977.

cb channel frequencies

When And Why Did CBs Become Popular?

In 1970 CB became very popular. There was an oil crisis when OPEC, an oil-producing countries’ group declared an oil embargo. The US government responded by lowering the national highway maximum speed to 55 mph.

The embargo resulted in fuel shortages and this led to rationing, which made the location of gas supplies difficult. 

This is when CB radio use expanded. Using CB, drivers could search and find fuel sources and could tell about the location to others. They were able to alert others to speed traps.

The wages of the truckers depend on the miles driven, so their wages and their productivity were negatively impacted by the 55 mph speed limit. Truckers protest by setting up Highway blockades for the lower speed limits, they used their CB for organizing and carrying out those protests. Don’t forget to check do people still use CB radios?

cb frequencies on a ham radio

What Features to Look For Improving CB Frequencies And Transmissions

Nothing disappointing than to try to tune into CB channels and receive muffled voices mixed in with a large amount of cracking static. All CB radios have 4 Watts of Transmission power, there are some features available for such radios that can largely improve reception of CB frequencies and improve the ability to listen clearly to any channel.

CB Radio Channels & Frequencies

CB FrequencyCB ChannelCustomary Use
26.96500CB Channel 01open to all
26.97500CB Channel 02open to all
26.98500CB Channel 03open to all
27.00500CB Channel 04open to all–4×4 channel
27.01500CB Channel 05open to all
27.02500CB Channel 06open to all
27.03500CB Channel 07open to all
27.05500CB Channel 08open to all
27.06500CB Channel 09Emergency
27.07500CB Channel 10open to all–regional roads
27.08500CB Channel 11open to all
27.10500CB Channel 12open to all
27.11500CB Channel 13open to all–marine, RV
27.12500CB Channel 14open to all–walkie talkies
27.13500CB Channel 15open to all
27.15500CB Channel 16open to all (also SSB)
27.16500CB Channel 17open to all–North/South Traffic
27.17500CB Channel 18open to all
27.18500CB Channel 19Truckers–East/West Hwy Traffic
27.20500CB Channel 20open to all
27.21500CB Channel 21open to all–regional roads
27.22500CB Channel 22open to all
27.25500CB Channel 23open to all
27.23500CB Channel 24open to all
27.24500CB Channel 25open to all
27.26500CB Channel 26open to all
27.27500CB Channel 27open to all
27.28500CB Channel 28open to all
27.29500CB Channel 29open to all
27.30500CB Channel 30open to all
27.31500CB Channel 31open to all
27.32500CB Channel 32open to all
27.33500CB Channel 33open to all
27.34500CB Channel 34open to all
27.35500CB Channel 35open to all
27.36500CB Channel 36open to all (also SSB)
27.37500CB Channel 37open to all (also SSB)
27.38500CB Channel 38open to all (also SSB, LSB)
27.39500CB Channel 39open to all (also SSB)
27.40500CB Channel 40open to all (also SSB)

Different Features For Various Uses of CB Channels

How do you plan to use the CB radio as well as which channels are you try to tap into will be the difference in which features you find beneficial. These features help to improve the quality of the CB frequencies: 

RF Gain: in this feature and operator create filters so that only a strong CB radio frequency and transmission is received. It is handy for two reasons: one it blocks any weak transmissions so that there is less background noise when you are speaking with someone who has a strong channel signal.

Secondly, it can be used to bring in weak signals and improve the clarity of the CB radio channels.

Automatic Noise Limiter: it is known as ANL, it improves the reception sound quality and allows operators to filter the interference, like Static and engine noise. It is evident if you drive a large truck, a radio having this feature will save you a lot of annoying static noise.

Instant Channel Functions: some radios allow users to quickly jump to two of the most popular CB channels – #9(emergency channel) and #19(for truckers).

cb radio frequency chart

Weather Reporting: through this, your radio will be able to tap into any local and NOAA radio stations so that you receive real-time weather updates. It is handy for truckers and equally useful for RV or motorhome drivers.

PA Functions: if a PA horn is mounted on top of your vehicle or under the hood then your radio can transform into a public address system.

Backlit Displays: if you plan to drive during the darkest hours of the day then this feature is a must. This feature is commonly included only in the more expensive models, it is a worthwhile investment.

Squelch Control: it frees the operator from being constantly forced to listen to background static by setting a specified breakpoint at which your radio will output a signal. The radio activates only if a CB frequency or transmission is received.

What is SSB?

Single sideband modulation( SSB) uses transmitter power and bandwidth more efficiently. 

What’s Above And Below The CB Channels?

Channels for the Business Radio Service above the band at 27.430, 27.450, 27.470, 27.490, 27.510, and 27.530 Mhz. The service is part of the VHF and UHF radio band. Are reserved for commercial use by Educational, religious, and health Institutions and by companies.

The Federal government has from 27.540 up to 28.000 frequencies. CB and Ham radio users with modified equipment often use illegal frequencies 27.575 and 27.585 as well as frequencies from 26.480 to 26.960, which belongs to the US military.

The Civil Air Patrol part of the USAF has been assigned 26.620 MHz, now the CAP uses VHF frequencies often. From 28.000 – 29.7000 MHz, the 10 amateur radio (HAM) band runs.

cb radio range

What Are Illegal CB Radio Frequencies?

Frequencies of 28.000 MHz and above are out of the CB radio range and into the domain of license amateur radio ( ham) operators who use it for Morse code. If you have a modified export CB radio the 19 high setting puts you at 28.085 MHz – Forbidden territory.

If you are talking on that frequency, you will be very noticeable to the official observers of the Amateur Radio World. 

To notify you, they will have to break their own band rules, as voice communication is not permitted at the frequency even for licensed amateur radio operators. They will not hesitate to report you and provide audio /video evidence to the FCC.

The FCC then contacts trucking companies and may find them, which has led to the truckers being fired. To avoid that problem, stay within their 40 authorized channels. 

What Are Bootleg Frequencies?

CB radio can be modified to Amateur Radio’s – 10 range which is legal for licensed operators only. CB radios approved in the US for use are marked “FCC  APPROVED”.

Even Ham radio operators are supposed to use FCC approval CB radios legally for Channels 1- 40. Those channels are possible to modify, but it is more difficult than modifying a non approved one.

is cb channel 9 still monitored

Do Cops Use CB radios?

Police analog radios are police bands. So, according to the definition, police generally do not use CB. Many police agencies have switched to digital radio. Some police do have CB radios so they can monitor civilian traffic or call for it when required in more rural areas. 

What CB Channel Police Uses?

Some agencies might still monitor channel 9 on the CB radio, but if you want to know about which radio frequencies the police use on a regular basis — they’re not the  (CB). The FCC has reserved specific sections of the EM spectrum for law enforcement/fire & rescue.

There are plenty of apps and pages that list them on the web, or you can get scanners to monitor the police bands.

What is Freebanding And Why Should You Think Twice Before Doing it?

Freebanding or out banding on random frequencies or channels describes an operator who is illegally using the frequencies or channels within the 11-meter frequency.

Many channels out of the 10khz CB radiofrequency are private and only those with proper authorization and licensing are permitted to use, but these licensing needs and restrictions have not stopped everyone from tapping illegally into the channels. 

Unauthorized frequencies consist of the International call frequencies of 27.555 and 2.285. International call frequencies provide a common meeting place for long-distance operators to initiate or respond to calls from other stations.

It is not used for conversation as those who contact then move to other frequencies. If you are jawboning on those frequencies, you will be as fire ants at a picnic. Listening is allowed but talking is not. The FCC cracks down on the illegal use of frequencies, citing and fining scofflaws.

Freebanding is against FCC regulations for two main reasons :

  1. Many CB radio channels must be kept open in case an emergency situation arises.
  2. Illegal linear amplifiers and transmitters for tapping into these channels are poorly constructed and cause splatter or harmonic distortion on CB frequencies which disturbs important Communications. 

How do Users Free Band on CB Radio Frequencies?

Freebanding CB radio operators access illegal channels through one of the two ways –

  1. Operators have an export CB radio that is legal in other countries but illegal in the United States.
  2. Operators modify amateur radios especially to free bands.

The marketing and sale of any CB radios that they have deemed easily modifiable despite the FCC banning, clever operators are able to rig up any amateur radio to reach these off-limit frequencies. 

what cb channel do police use

Why do People Free Bands on CB Radio Channels?

The 40 CB channels in the US may be overcrowded at times which makes a lot of CB radio operators use frequencies that are above or below the permissible CB frequencies in the CB radio frequency chart.

A radio frequency below the CB for example is mostly quiet and underutilized, the frequencies are strictly reserved for use by designated radio services like government agencies. A lot of free bending CB radio operators tap into an unauthorized CB channel for the thrill of it.

Whether to receive news from different parts of the country or around the world or for the excitement about being somewhere they should not be, the free banders run the risk of being caught by the FCC or law enforcement agency. 

What Penalties do Freebanders Face?

The FCC will first issue a Notice of Apparent Liability if a violator responds quickly and resolves the issue, which may not result in any fines. If someone continues their unauthorized use of CB frequencies, they have to face a number of penalties including :

A $10,000+ fine

The seizure of radio equipment

Suspension of any licenses obtained in other regulated FCC services.

So how do you stay out of trouble with the CB radio? Stay within the 40 CB channels and do not modify or buy a radio from a less than the reputable dealer. The best way to remain CB radio legal is to invest in an American made legal FCC certified CB unit and do not make any drastic or unnecessary upgrades or repair without consulting the FCC.

Where to Find Out More About The Rules That Govern CBs And CB Use?

The FCC has regulations and policies concerning virtually every aspect of the usage of CB. Complete Reference can be found at the government site in subpart D. The following highlights are a few of the important issues in that lengthy document.

CB channel 9 is for emergency and traveler information, but operators should be aware that you must on all channels and at all times give priority to emergency communication messages.

 So if there is an emergency you are permitted to break into any channel, if you hear an announcement about it you must stop communicating and allow that message to get through. That is common sense.

Some issues have usage regulations like- no CB transmitter is having permission to transmit non-voice data.

Harmful interference is also not permitted and that is defined as- any transmission, induction, or radiation that endangers the functioning of radio navigation or seriously degrades optics or repeatedly interrupts Radio Communication service operating with applicable laws and treaties and regulations.

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Other issues are more technical former like CB transmitters must be maintained within a frequency tolerance of 0.005%. A CB unit is not allowed to have the capability to increase transmitting power to any level in excess of the limits specified in 95.639.

No add-on device, external or internal, that extends the transmitting frequency capability of a CB transmitter above its original capability will be manufactured and sold or attached to any CB station transmitter.

Exact external controls and devices that have permission to be attached to CB are enumerated in 95.669. A copy of part 95, subpart D of the FCC rules, at the time of packing the transmitter, must be furnished with each CB transmitter marketed.

If you have got your CB used, have not received a copy, but you can access it on the website. Ignorance of the rules, is not an excuse, as usual.

cb radio license

What Are The 10 Codes?

When CB radios first started, they had tubes and these tubes had to warm up before transmitting. So after keying the mic, the user had to pause a few seconds or that part of the transmission would be lost to the listener.

So the 10 codes were developed to automatically insert the necessary pause at the beginning of the transmission. Modern equipment has no problem, so the trend for a modern-day user is to drop the 10 codes and use ordinary language for communication.

Those who are still enamored with the secret language of 10 codes, below are given some examples of the popular ones. A complete list can be found on the CB Lingo page.

10-4–Message received

10-9–Repeat message

10-10–Transmission completed, standing by

10-17–Urgent business

10-20–Identifying location (shortened to: “What’s your 20?”)

10-27–I’m moving to channel _____

10-33–Emergency traffic at this station

10-38–Ambulance needed at _____

10-45–All units within range please report

10-62–Unable to copy, please use the phone

10-99–Mission completed

10-100–Bathroom break

10-200–Police needed at _____

What is CB Slang?

Along with the 10 codes, you hear slang on the radio which can vary according to the region that you are in. Here are a few examples of CB slang – 

Ace–Important CBer

Ancient Mariner–AM or FM user

Backdoor–Vehicle behind

Beam–Directional antenna

Big Mama–9 Ft. whip antenna

Boat Anchor–An old tube rig or a radio that’s unrepairable

Chicken Coop–Weigh station

CW–Morse code

Double Key–Two stations talking at the same time

Foot warmer/heater/kicker/wearing socks–Linear amplifier

Fox Charlie Charlie–FCC

Fox hunt–FCC hunting for illegal operators

Gallon–1000 W of power

Haircut Palace–Bridge or overpass with low clearance

Mobile–CB radio station in a car or truck

Play dead–Standby

Prescription–FCC rules

QRM–Noise, interference on the radio

QSO–Conversation

Set of dials–CB rig

Smile and comb your hair–Radar trap ahead

Twin Huskies–Dual antennas

Worldwide, Where Can I Legally Use The CB Radio?

CB radio can be used within any area of the world where radio services are regulated by the FCC, it includes- the 50 states and the district of Columbia( DC), the Caribbean area, including Puerto Rico, Navassa Island, and the US virgin islands and various specific areas. You can use your CB with their legal equipment and rules in other parts of the world. 

Are Different Frequencies Used Around The World?

Many countries have the same CB frequencies as the US, there are slight differences in frequencies, power levels, and modes and the use of equipment not intended for that country may be illegal. 

Canada General Radio Service matches US frequencies, power levels, and modes. No adaptations are required for using CB gear when traveling between the US and Canada. 

The European conference of postal and telecommunications administration( CEPT) telecommunications adopted the US channels. But use FM rather than AM mode. Other European countries have additional channels. Germany gets 80 channels by adding the 26 MHz frequency. 

Some other countries such as New Zealand and Japan, have frequency assessments that do not match with those of any other countries. If you use the CB equipment in countries that don’t match the frequency mode and power requirements, you will be operating outside the laws of both that country and the US.

cb channel 19 frequency

Other Considerations Operators Should Make

One main consideration that operators should make when operating the radios is the size of the unit. Opposite to what some believe, a large radio does not mean that you receive better CB radio frequencies.

There are many varieties of small radios that take up only a small portion of space and are the perfect addition to trucks, passenger vehicles, and RVs. 

Another main consideration that operators should think about is the CB antenna. Many of them think that a top-notch radio should have a fabulous antenna but many are poorly set up and result in poor reception.

For best functionality, a quality antenna, installed properly will always give CB operators the best sound quality, irrespective of how expensive or inexpensive the unit is.

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