Frequently Asked Questions
If you have a question about our two way radio solutions or the services we provide, you may be able to find the answer below. We have compiled our most commonly asked questions to help you, but if you can’t find the answer you are looking for, please do contact us and a member of our team will be happy to help.
What are two way radios?
A two way radio is a radio which can both transmit and receive audio (voice). Two way radios are available as handheld radios, stationary radios which can sit on a desk top, and radios which can be fitted to vehicles such as those used by taxi companies. Handheld radios are commonly referred to as ‘walkie-talkies’.
All these radios will have a button known as a PTT (Press to Transmit). Pressing this button allows the user to transmit.
What is the difference between digital two way radios and analogue two way radios?
Digital radios offer greater coverage and clearer audio quality.
It is now likely that where coverage wasn’t possible with analogue technology, it will now be achievable using digital technology. In addition, the audio quality will be much clearer with almost no background noise due to a noise-cancelling function that enables audio to be crystal clear even, for example, if the user is standing next to a generator. Digital radios now offer indoor and outdoor GPS functionality at a standard far superior to that available on analogue technology.
Digital radios are waterproof as standard. Different manufacturers have different specifications, so it is advisable to check the individual radio specifications, if this is an important requirement.
Analogue radios will give you slightly less coverage than digital radios and the audio quality will not be as clear.
The cost to purchase or hire digital two way radios is now about the same as the cost of analogue technology. It is worthwhile considering the digital option as these radios have many standard functions such as individual calling, lone worker, and GPS, which analogue technology does not have.
What is the difference between licensed and non-licensed radios?
Non-licensed radios are usually cheaper low-cost radios and would normally be used for personal and light industrial use. For example, some license-free radios are suitable for communication between friends and family at campsites and ski resorts. Similarly, these radios might be suitable for light business use such as primary schools and very small buildings and warehouses.
Where there is minimal coverage required or very small buildings and communication between users is within a close range, these radios could be considered. Non-licensed radios come pre-programmed with set transmitting frequencies. No specialist programming is necessary and once charged up the radios are ready for use.
In a high radio usage environment, for example, London, there will be lots of users of license-free radios. It is important to clarify whether you need your conversations to be secure and not risk other users, of the same radio in a nearby building, hearing your conversations. If secure conversations are important then a licensed radio should be considered.
Licensed Radios are slightly more powerful radios and more robust than license-free radios. These radios are generally more expensive. Importantly these radios require a dedicated frequency (by law), which is available from OFCOM. A dedicated frequency is a frequency which the radios are programmed to which ensures that only those on the frequency can hear the transmissions.
This frequency needs to be ordered from OFCOM, which your radio dealer will organise for you. The frequency will arrive in the form of a number such as 444.12345. OFCOM will need to know where the radios will be used to ensure that the frequency given is not already in use by other radio users nearby. This is relatively straight forward, and your dealership will handle this for you.
Your radio dealership will then programme these frequencies into the radios, and this will enable them to ‘talk’ to each other.
Apart from being more robust and the conversation more secure, licensed radios offer much more functionality than their license free counterparts. You can now dial up individual users or make group calls and send text messages for example.
Licensed radios are slightly more powerful radios and should achieve slightly better coverage than license-free radios. The audio quality should also be clearer than license-free radios. These radios also have more functionality which means they do more. They are generally more expensive and you require a license from OFCOM to operate them.
What is the difference between handportables and mobiles?
Handportables are commonly known as ‘walkie-talkies’. Mobile desk top radios are ones which you will commonly see in a taxi office to communicate with the drivers. The same type of radio can also be fixed to a vehicle.
What is the range?
Non-licensed radios have the same power output, whatever make or model and you would not see any difference in the range of the radios whatever the sales literature or box says. As a guide only, in perfect conditions, for example, line of sight with no obstructions, either hills, buildings, trees etc, it could be possible to achieve 2-3 kilometres. However, in a busy high street, for example, you may not achieve coverage from one end to the other. Coverage in buildings is extremely hard to determine. In some buildings, you may achieve full coverage in 6 floors, where in others you may not get coverage up to the first floor. Factors that determine this are, shape and size of the building, what the building is made of and its contents.
Licensed Radios have an increased power output and therefore will offer increased range and coverage. The signal between radios will be stronger and the audio sound from the radios should sound clearer and crisper and generally better than license-free radios. Penetration of floors and walls within buildings is greater with licensed radios. As a guide only, in perfect conditions (line of sight, no obstructions) you could achieve 2-3 miles. However, for use within urban and built-up areas, this will reduce significantly, and you may find you might not even achieve coverage to the next street. Again, this can be due to the factors mentioned above.
Licensed Digital Two Way Radios now offer an all-around better deal for customers because of the increased coverage (about 25% more than licensed analogue radios) and far superior audio quality. It is worthwhile comparing analogue and digital technology to see what works best on your site.
License-free radios in a high usage environment may be susceptible to interference from other users on the same frequency. This is very likely in cities and towns where shops and businesses may use the same make and model radio. Although coverage may be achieved in a major city, license-free radios would not be suitable because of potential interference, which might not be obvious during a radio test.
What is the typical battery life?
Depending on usage, the typical battery life is 8 – 12 hours from fully charged.
What chargers are available to me?
Most radios are available with a single charger or a multi-unit, six-way charger.
Can I buy earpieces, headsets and carry cases to fit my radio?
Most radio dealerships provide a selection of audio accessories to fit the radios which they supply. The quality of audio accessories varies so when making comparisons ensure you are comparing like for like. A selection of earpieces and headsets can be seen here.
Can I use the radios abroad?
You can use license-free radios in most European countries. Licenced radios require licenses to be hired from the country they are to be used in. Please leave at least 3 months before you go abroad to arrange this. Costs for the license vary from country to country.
Can I trial the radios before I buy?
If you are buying new radios and are unsure whether they are suitable it is imperative that you discuss a trial with your radio supplier. Most dealerships are happy to lend or hire some radios to potential purchasers. A credit check is usually carried out before any radios are sent out.
If your dealership does not suggest a trial first and does not ask whether you have used radios before at the location, then it is important to mention this prior to any decision.
I can’t afford to purchase, what are my options?
Purchasing your equipment is not the only option. You can hire radio equipment on a temporary or long term basis for a fixed weekly rate. Hire rates depend on how long the hiring is for. For example, a weekend hire charge may be slightly higher than hiring the same radios long term. Audio accessories, chargers, and repeaters (boosters) are also available to hire.
I’m ready to talk to someone – What now?
As you will inevitably be spending a considerable sum on your radios you will want to know that your supplier will offer the after-sales support you require.
Suggested criteria for choosing your radio supplier:
- You should ask your radio supplier to provide at least one reference of a similar environment to your own and follow it up.
- Ask your radio supplier to meet you and discuss your requirements personally, you can usually get a feel for what is genuine and what is not.
- Go to their offices and get a feel for the company.
- Ask what warranty is available on the equipment – it is normal for all equipment to have at least a one year warranty.
- Most importantly, how quickly does your radio supplier respond to your enquiries? Does it take a week and several phone calls just to get a quote? It is not unreasonable, unless otherwise stated, to receive a quote within 24-48 hours following a meeting or request. All customer orientated companies will want to keep prospects happy and should respond very quickly to all enquiries. If you have to keep asking just to get a quote, it is probably sensible to look elsewhere.
Contact us by calling 0808 301 3527 to speak to one of our radio specialists now.