Which two way radio walkie-talkies are best for your business or event?
There are lots of situations where you’ll need your staff or team to keep in touch with each other, whether that’s as part of they day jobs or for a special event. Mobile phones do have their place – and almost everyone on your team will have one – but they have significant disadvantages when it comes to instant communications, multi-way conversations, durability and built-in safety features.
Two-way radios are a highly cost-effective alternative to mobiles and are incredibly versatile, portable and user friendly. Anyone can use them with very little training. There are so many different ways they can be put to use, whether you’re planning an outdoor event and need to keep your staff coordinated, or simply want to make communication within the workplace that little bit easier.
Here are five basic things to consider when choosing a two way radio system
1. The Maximum range:
The maximum range capable on two way radios using the PMR446 frequency on a transmit power of 0.5W is up to 10km. However, that could only be achieved in ideal conditions, i.e. at a high altitude with no obstacles between the two radios. In a built-up urban environment, the maximum range will likely be a lot lower. However, a good quality radio should provide adequate range for the vast majority of users. If you need anything over and above that, then you will need to consider a more powerful two-way radio.
2. The number of handsets:
The number of handsets you’ll need will depend on the number of staff who will be using them at one time. If your business works in shifts (e.g. manufacturing or warehousing) then you’ll only need enough handsets for the number of users on the premises at one time. But if you’re staging an event then you may need all your team to be connected at the same time. You may also need to think about whether everyone on the team really needs a handset, or if they’re only needed by selected team members, e.g. supervisors. At OS Comms we can help you make this decision: just tell us the numbers of people in your team and what you need them to be able to do, and we’ll work it out for you.
3. VHF or UHF?
Very high frequency VHF (136 – 174MHz) signals generally work best outdoors, giving a somewhat longer range for the same power output than Ultra High Frequency UHF (400 – 470MHz). However, VHF signals really do not work well when there are obstructions like buildings around. For most users who want their radios to be “good all-rounders”, UHF is the best choice. But if you plan to use your radios only in open countryside (or at sea – maritime radio is VHF) then VHF is better for absolute range.
4. Will you need emergency features?
If you need to continually monitor the wellbeing of your staff then most mainstream two-way radio systems can be designed to include the following features:
- Emergency button: a panic alarm to immediately alert others.
- Lone worker: to proactively monitor the safety of staff who are working by themselves for long periods.
- Man down: a distress signal will be sent if an employee falls and remains horizontal for pre-set period of time.
- Location tracking: locate every member of staff so that missing personnel can be quickly identified.
- Voice & data recording: every call and every piece of data can be recorded, allowing responders and control room operators to trace and review an incident as it’s happening.
5. Buy or hire?
Sometimes this decision is obvious, but no two companies are the same so at other times it needs careful consideration. Is the use of the two-way radio system limited to a one-off event or do you require it on a regular and indefinite basis? There are pros and cons for both hiring and purchasing. With the hiring option there is no large financial outlay and you can vary the number of handsets, spare batteries, charging stations etc plus the servicing and maintenance of the handsets are the responsibility of the supplier. With the purchasing option once you have made the initial financial outlay then there is no monthly charge. You will need to arrange the repair and servicing of the equipment and if you are purchasing professional radios then you will also need to apply for a licence from OFCOM (Office of Communications).