Jul 09, 2021


by: Paul Benson


Categories: News, Radio

What Frequency Do Two Way Radios Use?

Two way radios use frequencies as channels to transmit information. If you’re new to two way radios, the idea of frequencies can seem confusing. However, they don’t need to be complex. If you’re wondering ‘what frequency do two way radios use?’, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll explain exactly what a frequency is, which frequencies are used by two way radios in the UK and how to decide which frequency to choose for your two way radio.

Two Way Radio Frequency UK

There are a few things that you need to know when it comes to two way radio frequencies.

Firstly, the lower your radio frequency is, the further distance the radio communications will be able to travel. This means that higher radio frequencies will not be able to travel as far as lower frequencies. However, the higher the frequency, the more likely it is to be able to pass through walls. This means that higher frequencies are better suited for use inside buildings.

So, a low radio frequency such as 160MHz in the VHF radio band will be suitable for travelling longer distances, whilst a higher frequency such as 480MHz in the UHF band will be more suited for use inside buildings.

Whatever you intend to use your two way radios for, there will be a frequency available to suit your needs. However, you’ll also need to consider whether a license-free or licensed radio will be more suited to your business needs.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about two way radio frequencies.

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What Is A Radio Frequency?

First things first, you need to know what a radio frequency is. Two way radios transmit and receive messages on different frequencies, which are similar to channels. There are millions of possible frequencies available, but both radios will need to be tuned into the same frequency and be within a certain distance of one another to be able to receive the message.

Radio frequencies are measured in units of Hertz, which measure the cycles per second. The most common units of measurement that you’ll see are kilohertz (KHz) and megahertz (MHz).

Radio in construction

VHF Two-Way Radio Frequencies

Radio frequencies which fall between 30MHz and 300MHz are known as VHF (Very High Frequency). These frequencies are most suited for outdoor use, where there are few obstructions for the frequency to navigate through and the maximum range is required.

You’ll often find VHF radio signals being used in industries such as:

  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Emergency services
  • Marine
  • Oil & mining
  • Transport

UHF Two-Way Radio Frequencies

Radio frequencies which fall between 300MHz and 3000MHz are known as UHF (Ultra High Frequency). Most two way radios in the UK will fall into the UHF range. Although these radios are ideal for use inside buildings, they’re also great for all-purpose use, when they may need to be used both indoors and outdoors.

You’ll often find UHF radio signals being used in industries such as:

  • In-building construction
  • Education
  • Hospitals and medical settings
  • Hotels and hospitality
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Security

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Licensed Vs License-Free Two Way Radios

There are two different types of two way radio: licensed and license-free. The type you’ll need will depend on the frequency on which you want to operate and what you’re using your radios for.

In the UK, most radio transmitters will need a license which is issued by Ofcom. This is because Ofcom are responsible for controlling who can transmit on what frequency, ensuring that interference isn’t caused to official radio users such as police, emergency services, air traffic control and military users. But don’t worry – it’s not as difficult as it sounds to acquire a radio license.

However, if you want a simple walkie talkie to communicate with friends over a short distance, you are unlikely to need a license.

License-Free Two Way Radio Frequencies

License-free radios operate over short distances and conform to the EU standard of PMR446. These radios can be used by anyone in the UK or EU without requiring any form of license. These radios can only have a power input of 0.5 watts, giving them a shorter range than licensed radios.

There are eight defined channels for license-free radios which operate within the UHF band. These are:

  1. 446.00625
  2. 446.01875
  3. 446.03125
  4. 446.04375
  5. 446.05625
  6. 446.06875
  7. 446.08125
  8. 446.09375

As these radios use only eight channels, this can cause interference when multiple radios are being used in the same range at the same time. It can also mean that others are able to listen in on your conversations.

View our range of license-free radios here

Two way radio for security

Licensed Two Way Radio Frequencies

Licensed two way radios are typically more powerful than license-free radios, with up to 5 watts of power. This gives licensed radios a longer range and the ability to operate within buildings. The frequency that you’ll use with a licensed radio will depend on the type of license that you hold.

There are a few different types of radio license available within the UK, all of which will need to be purchased through Ofcom.

The most basic type of license will allow you to use licensed radios over a set of frequencies which are shared by all users of this license type. This type of license is quick and easy to obtain and costs £75 per organisation for five years of use. The basic radio license is suitable for most businesses who do not require a private frequency but need to be able to use their radios anywhere in the UK.

If you need a higher level of security, you can purchase a geographic radio license. This will give you a specific frequency or set of frequencies which are allocated to your business within a set geographical area. The price of this license will depend on which area you choose to purchase it for, with costs typically highest in London. These radios cannot be used outside of the licensed area as you may interfere with frequencies allocated to other businesses.

When you purchase a radio license, you’ll be able to choose whether you’d prefer a low or high frequency, depending on the needs of your business. This gives you greater flexibility to meet the requirements of your business.

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Related Questions

Are Walkie Talkies Private?

Whether or not walkie talkies are private will depend on the type of two way radio that you own. License-free two way radios are not private as they are only able to operate on eight defined frequencies. This means that anyone could tune into the same frequency and listen into your conversation. However, licensed two way radios can be private, if you purchased your own dedicated frequency from Ofcom.

What Is The Best Frequency For Two Way Radios?

The best frequency for your two way radio will depend on what you’re using it for. For long distance, opt for a low frequency within the VHF range, as this will enable your signal to travel further. If you’re using your radios over a short distance within buildings, a high frequency within the UHF

Choosing The Right Frequency For Your Two Way Radio

Choosing the best frequency for your two way radio isn’t always straightforward. In fact, the task can feel quite overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time using a two way radio. That’s why we’re here to help.

When you purchase a radio from NRC Radio, we can assist with your Ofcom license application, along with helping you to select the right frequency for your business and programming your radio.

To discuss your requirements in more detail, give us a call today.