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While using a two-way radio is relatively simple, knowing how the technology works – and which frequency band is right for your organisation – will help you get the most out of your investment.

Here is a simple breakdown of how two-way radios work, and what they can do for you.

How do they work?

In essence, two-way radios are electronic devices that are able to both transmit and receive radio signals.

Most two-way radios operate on a radio frequency range of between 150MHz to 900MHz. Generally speaking, radio waves in this frequency range can only travel in a straight line, and cannot travel over the horizon or behind solid objects.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, radio signals broadcast at around 900MHz can penetrate through walls and objects, and reflect or bounce off some surfaces in order to reach their destination.

For this reason, it’s vital that you choose the correct frequency for your organisation.

Another aspect to consider is the power output of your two-way radio. The amount of wattage has a significant impact on how far a two-way radio can transmit and receive signals.

Most handheld two-type radios broadcast at around 1-5 watts, while a two-way radio installed in a vehicle can broadcast around 5 to 100 watts. As a general rule of thumb, the more watts, the further the radio can transmit.

However, the higher the wattage, the faster the battery will drain. Therefore, battery powered handheld radios with a high wattage, although useful, are only beneficial if you have a constant supply of backup power.

Types of two-way radios

Two-way radios come in two varieties: half duplex and full duplex.

A half-duplex two-way radio can both transmit and receive a radio signal, but not at the same time. To alternate between the two functions, you typically hold down a button to transmit a signal (i.e. speak into the device), and then let go of that button to receive a signal from other devices.

On the other hand, a full-duplex radio allows the device to both transmit and receive signals at the same time. Mobile phones are a good example of a full-duplex device, as you don’t have to push a button to talk (or let go of that button to hear the other person speak). Most modern two-way radios are half-duplex. Why? Because they’re cheaper to manufacturer, easier for people to share and comprehend vital information (people are less likely to talk other each other), and compatible with a range of radio frequencies to suit both indoor and outdoor settings.

For more information about how two-way radios work, contact Uniguard today.

Frequency ranges and their uses

As previously mentioned, different frequency ranges are used for different purposes.

For most applications, the three categories you need to choose from include: VHF (Very High Frequency), UHF (Ultra High Frequency), and 900 MHz. Each frequency range has their own unique pros and cons. Although, in most cases, it’s abundantly clear which range is best suited for your exact needs.

Here’s a quick breakdown on the various frequency bands and when to use them:

VHF (136 – 174MHz)

Ideal for outdoor or rural settings where you need maximum range with little to no obstructions.

UHF (403 – 470MHz)

Ideal for when users located both indoors and outdoors need to communicate with each other. This level of versatility makes it the most commonly used frequency band.


Ideal for users who need to communicate with each other in the same building.

Unsure which two-way radio is right for you?

Picking the right communication method for your employees is vital to the success of your business.

For starters, you need a system that is reliable. This is vital when it comes to monitoring lone employees, responding to emergency situations, and keeping morale and productivity high in the workplace.

Secondly, you need access to the latest safety features. These days, modern two-way radios do far more than just let you communicate with other users. Features like in-built GPS, location tracking, task allocation, and request call-back buttons, enable you to closely monitor your employees in real-time to ensure they are safe, productive, and compliant.

Furthermore, you can even give workers key checkpoints to follow while on route to their destination. This way, you can be sure they are following your directions and arriving at their destination on time, every time.

Finally, you want a system that meets your unique requirements. Two-way radios come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on your industry and circumstances, you may not need the latest bells-and-whistles to achieve your business goals.

On the other hand, you may be unsure of what you need to suit your particular needs. In this case, by talking to a trusted supplier of two-way radios and other communication solutions, they can assess your needs and recommend the best system for you.

For more information on how two-way radios work – and what they can do for you visit our Two Way Radios page or contact Uniguard today.