When it comes to fail safe communications, two way radios are an extremely popular choice for a large variety of applications:
- Leisure and sport facilities
- Taxi firms
- Shopping centres
- Bus companies
- Petrochemical sites (ATEX)
- Oil rigs (ATEX)
Two way radios (also known as handheld radios, portable radios or walkie talkies) give seamless coverage, reliable connectivity and in the case of ATEX radios, they are the only means of critical communications in hazardous and explosive areas.
Related content: ATEX radios for hazardous environments
All this being said; there are reasons why two way radios may NOT be suitable for your company or business area.
1 -The radios will not be used frequently enough to justify a purchase
It ls common for people to use two way radio for activities such as hiking in groups within a close proximity of each other, galas, shows and concerts. These types of events are not normally a daily or even weekly occurrence for many organisers. It may be down to the event organiser or a committee to decide where budgets are spent.
A relatively cost effective solution for these groups would be licence free radios (PMR446)
Licence free radios can vary in quality and cost, and can come in at anywhere between £100 - £350 for a pair.
Licence free radios are able to transmit on eight (UHF) PMR 446 frequencies (see Ofcom frequency table) so can be operated without the additional cost of a licence. All UHF and VHF frequencies are governed by Ofcom.
Please bear in mind that these licence free channels are not unique to you and you will have to share ‘space’ with other users; this can result in interference.
Licence free radios have lots of advantages compared to licenced radios:
- Less expensive than a licensed radio
- They come pre-programmed
- Simple to use straight from the box
- Widely available
- Operate anywhere in the UK
Related content: Licence free radio – Top 5 Hytera radios (PMR446)
Licence free radios are certainly something we can provide, but what if the groups budget can’t stretch this far?
Radio hire can be a more cost effective and simpler alternative for groups using radio for only occasional use.
2 - You don’t see the value in two way radio
Mobile phones are increasingly being used as a means of communications for events and businesses. 60% of the population owns a mobile phone so it would be a reasonable assumption to make that two way radios are an unnecessary purchase.
Mobile phones can be frequently upgraded and are available on contracts with 1 year warranties.
Mobile phones are ideal for:
- Light use
- A solution for non-hazardous environments
- Situations where health and safety does not need to be enhanced by Lone worker or man down features attributed to radios
- Companies operating in area’s with full mobile coverage from 3rd party networks
- One to one calls where group calling is not required
Two way radios
There is an initial capital investment to install the infrastructure of a radio system however, lease purchase and rental maintenance options are available. The system and related equipment would then be solely owned by the purchaser and there would be no on-going monthly charge for:
- Text messages
- Enhanced health and safety
- Group calls; one to many and one to all
- Communication cover in the event of a 3rd party network failure
Where your company or organisation does not have a need for enhanced health and safety, cost free communications and failsafe networks, two way radios would NOT be the best fit for you.
3 - You do not have any 'line of sight'
VHF and UHF radio waves transmit on 'line of sight' (give or take 25%) signals cannot go through or over large hills or mountains or through the surface of the earth.
Related content: Analogue and Digital radio
Two way radios on their own would not be able to give complete coverage if any of these conditions applied to your company’s location.
Wait: all is not lost
If radios are required in areas where there is no line of sight there IS a solution for most cases.
To overcome this problem and to increase the distance covered, a repeater is used to’re-transmit' the signal.
Repeaters can be mounted on a pole or mast. They can be made portable should the area needing covered by communications, be a across a variable geographical area. They can also be located on the top of tall building or sound structures.
In order to establish the requirements a radio propagation survey would be carried out
These options requires engineering and are not an ‘out of the box’ radio option so would incur additional costs
In this case two way radios alone would NOT be the best fit for you.
4 - You are a moving target
For industries such as long distance haulage, which requires frequent communications over a country wide area a radio network may not be the best choice.
Radio networks can operate over large geographical distances however these are more suited to regional bus companies, taxi drivers and localised tram networks. These systems are designed to give total operational coverage eliminating network failures, overload and even allowing communication during natural disasters.
As mentioned before, radio’s signals are transmitted through repeaters situated on radio masts and other high structures to cover large areas. Companies looking for communications over large distance may find a device on a mobile networks the better choice.
A radio system can consist of different equipment such as:
- Portable radios
- Mobile radios
In cases where your group or company is spread out over the country, two way radios alone would NOT be the best fit for you.
So what now?
Two way radios are a solid investment for any company.
Our aim is to make sure that you are fully aware of the issues that may arise when considering a two way radio purchase and ensure a radio system is the right choice for you and your company.
Find out why Derek Fett from Aerial Media Services would not be without two way radio in his Drone business
Related content: drone operators; how do they communicate within a team on site?
Over to you
If you would like to speak to someone about your communication requirements get in touch