Stonor Park using mototrbo digital two-way radios
Mototrbo digital two-way radios arrive at Stonor Park
23rd February 2021
digital two-way radios
Digital two-way radio solution deployed at ASDA Didcot ADC
9th March 2021

Two-way radios – Frequently Asked Questions

Please find below common two-way radio frequently asked questions.

How does a two-way radio work?

Two-way radio works by converting audio to radio waves that are then transmitted through the air. These radio waves are received by other radios which convert the radio waves back to audio.

The conversion to radio waves can be sent as an analogue signal or a digital signal, with digital transmission being the more modern technology. With digital radio, it is possible to send other types of data over the radio waves such as text messages and status updates. It is even possible to encrypt data when using digital radio to stop people using your network without your permission.

Analogue v Digital

Analogue radios have been around for many years and still continue to be used.  However, as with all technology, it never stands still and digital radio technology has changed the two-way radio industry.  It is easier to articulate the benefits of digital radios when looking at the two:

  • Clearer signal – no background noise and voice clarity remains the same when the signal weakens.
  • Increased coverage – digital radios will have greater coverage than analogue, typically by between 20%-30%.
  • Greater functionality – functions such as GPS tracking, caller ID, Man Down and Lone Worker, which provides greater efficiencies and health & safety benefits to its users.
  • Secure transmission – it is far more difficult to listen in to digital transmissions than analogue. This is often a key driver from analogue to digital where the analogue user can often pick-up other chat outside of their business.

What is the range of a two-way radio?

There are several variables to take into account when answering this question.  The main point here will be the environment that you are using your two-way radio.  If you are operating in an extremely built-up area with lots of tall office blocks and buildings, you may only get a few hundred meters of range.  However, if you are using the same radio in an open, flat countryside setting on a clear day, this range could increase to between 2-3 miles.  What is key here is to book a survey with your two-way radio supplier to help advise on the best two-way radio system for you.

What should also be taken into account when answering this question is that two-way radios have further developed and you can now get radios working over broadband / 4G such as Motorola Wave PTX Broadband Push-To-Talk which gives you Europe wide coverage.

UVF and VHF – which frequency is best for me?

VHF operates at the lower end of the frequency range and is capable of travelling over longer distances.  Its far more suited for outdoors, covering large open spaces.

UHF operates at the higher end of the frequency range and is more suited where there are more obstacles such as buildings as it penetrates these obstacles with greater effect.  If you are looking for an all-round solution, then UHF would typically be the best option.

What is the difference between licensed and licence free radios?

Licence free radios are generally cheaper than licensed radios and are typically suited for friends, family and small group/club functions.  They work best where users are in closer range of each other and have pre-progammed transmitting frequencies.  Once charged, they are ready to be used.

Licensed radios are more suited to professional organisations where communication is key.  Licensed radios are generally more powerful and robust and  will be typically more expensive as a result.  They will have greater range, secure transmissions and have far more functionality such as group calls, Man Down and Lone Worker.  These radios require a dedicated frequency, which is available from OFCOM.  This dedicated frequency will be programmed into the radio and ensures that only those on the frequency can hear the transmissions.  Wirefr3 can manage the licence process for you.


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