The CB Radio has 40 channels that range from 26.965 to 27.405 MHz, and the channel spacing is 10 KHz apart. Although anyone can use these channels, some are used for specific purposes, which are listed in the table below.
CB Radio Frequency Chart
|CB Channel||CB Frequency||Common Usage|
|Channel 1||26.965 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 2||26.975 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 3||26.985 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 4||27.005 MHz||Often used for 4x4s/off-roading|
|Channel 5||27.015 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 6||27.025 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 7||27.035 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 8||27.055 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 9||27.065 MHz||Emergency communications|
|Channel 10||27.075 MHz||Ope to everyone (often used by truckers)|
|Channel 11||27.085 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 12||27.105 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 13||27.115 MHz||Ope to everyone (often used by marine/Rvers)|
|Channel 14||27.125 MHz||Open to everyone (often used by walkie-talkies)|
|Channel 15||27.135 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 16||27.155 MHz||Open to everyone (and SSB)|
|Channel 17||27.165 MHz||Open to everyone (often used by truckers)|
|Channel 18||27.175 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 19||27.185 MHz||Truckers re: East/West Highway Traffic|
|Channel 20||27.205 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 21||27.215 MHz||Open to everyone (often used by truckers)|
|Channel 22||27.225 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 23||27.255 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 24||27.235 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 25||27.245 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 26||27.265 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 27||27.275 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 28||27.285 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 29||27.295 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 30||27.305 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 31||27.315 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 32||27.325 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 33||27.335 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 34||27.345 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 35||27.355 MHz||Open to everyone|
|Channel 36||27.365 MHz||Open to everyone (and SSB)|
|Channel 37||27.375 MHz||Open to everyone (and SSB, LSB)|
|Channel 38||27.385 MHz||Open to everyone (and SSB)|
|Channel 39||27.395 MHz||Open to everyone (and SSB)|
|Channel 40||27.405 MHz||Open to everyone (and SSB)|
Why are there only 40 channels?
The CB radio service (the citizens band radio service) allows for two-way radio communications at short distances over its 40 channels. The federal communications commission (FCC) first opened access to the CB band in the 1940s but due to its popularity among truckers, it eventually allocated 40 channels that are still in use today.
Prior to the CB band, the federal government set up General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) UHF, class A, class B, and class D bands, which were the precursor to the Family Radio Service (FRS).
Because the CB radio is meant for short-term communication, it’s largely unregulated as no permits are needed to access it. There are, theoretically, millions of potential users, so limiting it to 40 channels and limiting the range meant the CB doesn’t become overcrowded and useless. These limits were particularly helpful in the early days of CB radio (before mobile phones) because there were far more users trying to access the band than there are today.
Which Channel Should I Use?
While CB channels are open to the general public, there are some channels reserved for specific uses, for example:
- Channel 9 is an emergency channel for emergency communication about first response and accidents
- Channel 19 is used by truck drivers to communicate about traffic, speed traps, etc.
- Channel 6 is for truckers to talk about traffic and road conditions
- Channel 10 is used to talk to weigh stations and inspection places
- Channel 17 is used by truckers to talk to other drivers close by
- Channel 14 is used by people traveling in a group
- Channel 21 is used by boaters
Remember, you can use almost any channel, but some channels are used more for certain things.
Channels vs Frequencies
CB radio channels and frequencies are not the same things, even though they are closely related. “Channel” refers to a particular frequency range assigned by the government for CB radio use. There are 40 CB radio channels, numbered from 1 to 40, and they cover the frequency range from 26.965 MHz to 27.405 MHz.
“Frequency,” on the other hand, refers to the actual radio waves transmitted and received by the CB radio. The frequency of a radio wave is measured in hertz (Hz), which shows how many cycles of the wave occur per second. For CB radio, the frequencies range from 26.965 MHz to 27.405 MHz.
Each CB radio channel corresponds to a particular frequency within this range. For example, Channel 1 corresponds to 26.965 MHz, while Channel 40 corresponds to 27.405 MHz. When a CB radio operator chooses a channel, they are selecting the frequency range that their radio will use for transmission and reception.
What About Freebanding?
Freebanding means using radio frequencies that are not allowed for CB radio. CB radio operators installed export kits, sometimes called expo 1 or expo A, which modified the radios so they could access channels above and below the standard 40. Freebanding was much more popular 25-30 years ago when CB radios were at their peak and it was hard to get a word in. This process is particularly easier to do with older models. Newer CB radios are not as easy to modify.
However, freebanding is against the law and can cause interference with other radio services. If caught, those who freeband may face fines or legal trouble. Some CB radio users may still choose to freeband to communicate with other radio operators who are outside the standard CB frequency range.
Some CB Radio Basics
It’s pretty simple to use a CB radio. You just need a base station, a CB antenna, and power. Even though usage is down somewhat, CB radios are still commonly used by truckers, emergency personnel, and other professionals for short-range voice communication.
What about Ham Radios?
This is a common question. Ham radios have much longer transmission capabilities because of their advanced technology and output power. Ten-meter amateur radios can reach around the world with ranges of 1,000+ miles. They don’t use channels the same way CB radios do.