Two-Way Radio Buying Guide: 7 Key Questions and Answers

If you’re planning to buy a radio communication system for your business, the following information will serve as a handy guide to help you understand the basic functions and features of two-way radios.

What is a two-way radio?

Popularly known as a walkie-talkie, a two-way radio is a communication device that receives and sends spoken communication through radio signals. Two-way radio systems are used across industries to facilitate internal communication within workgroups.

What is the range of a typical 2-way radio?

This depends on a number of factors, such as wattage, type of antenna, frequency band (UHF/VHF), and the environment where you’ll use the radio.

To simplify, remember that a radio with greater wattage will have a longer range. In addition, a VHF radio offers longer range in an obstruction-free environment but UHF radio signals can better penetrate through walls and ceilings. And a long antenna will give you superior reception than a stub antenna.

What is the difference between VHF and UHF radios?

VHF analog radios (30 -300 MHz) are best suited for outdoor environments with clear line of sight, that is, minimum obstructions. UHF analog radios (300 MHz-3 GHz) are great for indoor use as well as in areas with lots of buildings or other physical obstructions. Then there are digital radios, which operate much like UHF devices.

Remember that VHF radios cannot communicate with UHF radios. All three types are available as handheld or mobile models, base stations, repeaters, trunked radio systems and ROIP (Radio over Internet Protocol) devices.

What are channels?

Radio communication signals travel through channels. Every channel on an analog radio has a frequency of its own, and organizations use several different channels for different departments. For instance, your security team will have a different channel set at a particular frequency so that their communication is private to the security personnel only. This prevents disturbance in other workgroups and also protects information.

With digital radios, each employee can have an individual channel as well as a workgroup channel.

How long does a radio battery last?

While this depends on how much you use the device, you can expect fully-charged discount two-way radios batteries to last anywhere between eight and twelve hours.

Should I buy digital or analogue two-way radios for my business?

Analog two-way radios are still very much in demand and are cheaper than digital systems. Digital walkie-talkies offer better coverage, superior sound quality and allow one-to-one as well as group communication. Some digital models also have a text-messaging feature.

Buy two-way radios for your organization taking into account the nature of your business, budget, long-term needs and feature requirements.

Do I need a license to buy two-way radios for my business?

You do not need a license to purchase 2-way radios but you’ll need an FCC license to operate models that use GMRS frequencies. While license-free models are available for commercial use, we recommend that you use licensed models for better security, more features and higher power.

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