Amateur Radio is a non-commercial communications service. Amateur radio operators in the United States use special frequencies assigned by the Federal Communications Commission. They communicate by voice, Morse code, or computer-to-computer. Some hams transmit television pictures. Other specialize in satellite communications.
Hams take part in many types of activities. Lots of hams use inexpensive handheld equipment to talk with local hams over amateur radio repeaters. Many use their equipment to talk with other hams throughout the world (and sometimes to astronauts and cosmonauts in space). Some hams experiment with new technology by building, testing, and operating new types of radio equipment. Others concentrate on providing emergency communications in times of disaster.
Amateur radio operators perform several kinds of free public service. Emergency communications after a disaster is the most important.
Few people know that every community in the Bay Area has a network of specially-trained hams who volunteer to link neighborhood fire stations, police stations, hospitals, blood banks, Red Cross shelters, and other emergency sites after a disaster. In many cases, amateur radio is the only way for rescue personnel to communicate with each other. Many hams have mobile radio equipment and battery backup power systems.
Hams also monitor distress calls from ships and yachts; they provide communications for local events like bike races and marathons; and they relay messages nationwide (routine or emergency) for non-hams.
Amateur radio operators can use many different modes to communicate; voice, Morse code, home computers, satellites, television, repeater relays, and so forth.
CB is limited to voice communications.
Amateur radio operators may communicate with other hams anywhere in the world, and even with hams in space.
CB is limited to under 150 miles.
Amateur radio operators are permitted in use up to 1500 watts of power.
CB radio is limited to 5 watts.
Amateur radio frequencies are spread across the radio spectrum.
CB is limited to one 40-channel band.