Posted on Jun 18, 2019

What to look for in a two-way radio

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In the past 40 years we’ve worked with people within a whole host of job roles some of whom order radios on a frequent basis and others who have never ordered a radio before.
New customers often come to us because their communication isn’t as effective as it could be. Sometimes these are companies looking at using radios for the first time and interested in the benefits that two way communication can offer, companies with radios in need of  repair or those frustrated with the radios they’re currently using which are not performing as they had hoped. We speak with customers who have outgrown their old analogue radio systems and are in need of a migration solution, companies with licence free radios experiencing interference as well as radio users experiencing blackspots in their radio coverage. As experts in radio technology it’s our job to share our knowledge and we do this on a daily basis with businesses across the UK. In a world filled with options, choosing the right radio can be a minefield and this is where our technical team come in.

Our friendly team at Zycomm are great at providing solutions to each business. With experience supplying to over 50 sectors we know the right questions to ask you to ensure the product we offer will suit you and optimise your communications. We even narrow down a couple of options based on our discussions with you with a free trial on two different radios. This article is just a quick look at the main things you might want to consider when choosing a radio. Once you’ve read this (or maybe even before!) hop onto our webchat function and start a conversation today about your specific requirements.


Help me choose

In this blog we’ll focus on handheld portable two-way radios but we also offer fixed mobile units in vehicles and full digital radio systems. Posed as a series of questions we've included some of the main considerations to look for when purchasing a radio:

1)  Do I need a licenced radio?
To answer this question, you need to ask yourself the following 3 things.

a) If someone overheard your conversations would it matter?

If you need to keep your information secret from other listeners (for example a security team at an event), are concerned about confidential company information being leaked or tasked with protecting patient data or safeguarding children then encryption may be important to you. The licence free shared frequency allows allow other radio users to listen in on your conversations if they are close enough. You may also receive interference when other nearby radio users are talking amongst each other on the network. This is because the licence free radio channel is national and can be used by anyone using a licence free radio.

What to look for in a two way radio, security man holding a radio with CCTV screens in the background

b) How much coverage do you need?
To look at the coverage required the main things you need to consider are the materials of your building, the size of the site, any potential blackspots such as basement and line of site interference such as woodland. This is why we conduct complimentary site visits to investigate the coverage requirements of your company.

c) Do you need extra safety features?
Licence free radios are usually designed for simplicity and ease of use which is perfect for some but for those interested in extra safety features (such as lone worker and man down), GPS tracking and management tools, licenced radios offer far more by way of functionality.

Where licence free radios might work for you: Licence free radios are a great cost-effective way to introduce push to talk technology in small to medium sized businesses such as Leisure centres, community support, gyms, hotels and warehouses.

Where licenced radio is a superior option: If your communication takes place over a wide area, you want to avoid interference, protect the privacy of your conversations or make maximum use of the great features or integration options radios have to offer, then the extra cost of choosing licenced radio is certainly worth it.
If you do need a licence for a radio which can vary from £75 for 5 years to £200 annually for large scale operations we can help guide you through the process to make sure you select the licence that works for you.

2) Should I go digital?
Analogue radios were the bread and butter of the communications world for a large stretch of time. By way of a brief description analogue signal transmits natural voice and only allows one conversation at a time. At short range this usually poses no issue but over larger and broader areas signal can drop out, voices can appear less clear and there may be some static noise interference.
Digital technology provides a more future proof solution for your business which also comes with the opportunity for a whole host of different functionalities such as GPS, text messaging and emergency features. They also allow 2 people to talk simultaneously. For larger businesses our radio repeaters can allow even more people to talk at the same time.

3) How weather proof are walkie talkies?

Our radios are by nature rugged and robust but the true answer to this question lies in how weather proof you need your radios to be. We have submersible options popular in leisure centres, dust and weatherproof radios for agricultural use and even intrinsically safe Atex radios for the oil and gas industry. The IP rating of a radio tells you what level of protection your radio will provide.

Tractor in the snow


4) How important are the safety features?

Health and Safety is a hot topic for business these days but do you need all the features available?

a) Do your staff work alone?

b) How dangerous are the conditions on your premises TO THAT WORKER

c) If your business operates largely outdoors could you find a staff member in distress quickly?

These are the main three considerations for the most popular safety features we provide. Many staff members work alone and this is where the second question comes into play. Broadly speaking a worker in an office with access to a telephone can work alone with very little danger however a security guard at night, a construction worker or distribution centre staff member could be subject to a whole host of hazards during their working day/night. Emergency buttons, man down and lone working alarms can be used as an effective management tool. Emergency features can also be programmed to send alerts to phone or other external systems, for example if there is only one staff member left on site. This maximises their safety and means staff resources can be allocated and task managed more efficiently.

Alarms are set by caller ID, however in large outdoor areas or for events, sports activities or moorland area GPS tracking can be vital for a first responder to locate an injured worker quickly in a time critical situation.

5) Are two way radios heavy?

Now we’ve looked at the main considerations it’s also worth taking into account the personal preferences of your team. Some radios are small enough to fit on a lanyard or in a pocket and have proved very popular within retail and education settings for workers who wish to keep weight and size to a minimum. Equally workers in industries requiring manual input or using machinery are usually unphased by the typical size of a two way radio and prefer the additional functionality of the slightly larger radios.

6) Which brand do I chose?

We only partner with manufacturers of brands we truly trust including Hytera, Kenwood and Motorola. For us the most important thing is which radio suits you so this is always our priority when recommending a radio. Equally if you already have a preference in mind we will always try and find you a radio within that range.

7) Should I hire or buy a radio?

If the number of workers on site is relatively constant and required over a long period then buying radios is usually the ideal solution especially as we offer maintenance packages to future proof your radios. However, if you are using extra staff for a temporary period, for example extra security for freshers week, a construction project or a school trip then renting could be a more cost effective solution and prevents radios becoming lost or damaged in storage. We have a large range of hire radios and we own our own hire frequencies. We hope this article has helped you gain a further understanding of the process required to buy a radio. Of course, we know your time is precious so this is why our sales and services team ask the vital questions to shortlist the best radios for you without you having to consider in detail every element of the above.

You are welcome to call us at any time 8.30-5pm during the working week on 01773 570123, use our webchat or email us.


Help me choose