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Blog: What Are The Differences Between Licensed And Licence-Free Two-Way Radios?           Published: 23/11/2022

What Are The Differences Between Licensed And Licence-Free Two-Way Radios?

Two-way radios are an essential piece of equipment for many businesses due to their ease of use for communication and security. Handsets are susceptible to wear and tear over time, so it’s vital to recognise the signs that your two-way radio may soon need a repair or complete replacement, so it doesn’t catch you by surprise later. Here’s what to look out for:



Licensed Two-way radios

‘Licensed’ radios require a licence from Ofcom (the official radio licensing body in the UK), which grants you an exclusive frequency to use for two-way communications.

A simple site licence costs £75 and is valid for five years. You can purchase your licence through DTS Solutions and other business radio suppliers – please get in touch for help selecting the right type of licence to suit your requirements.

There is naturally an extra expense involved in this choosing licensed radios, and to cut costs some businesses may decide on licence free radios instead. However, in exchange for the price, you are getting the benefit of a specific secure programmed frequency, which provides a clearer communication channel with less chance of disruption.

On rare occasions when interference does occur, the radio can simply be reconfigured to a new secure frequency. In settings such as hospitals or production lines where secure clear communication is essential for functioning of the business, licensed two-way radios are highly recommended.

Another major benefit of using licensed two-way radios is their power and range. If communicating over longer distances or difficult rugged terrain is required, then licensed radios are likely the best option for you due to their extended coverage. They can also provide greater clarity of sound over these distances.

Licence-free Two-way radios

Licence-free radios operate within the narrow frequency band 446.0-446.2 MHz – which is the only frequency range approved by Ofcom for licensing exemptions. Any radio that uses a frequency outside this range must operate under an Ofcom licence.

The licence-free frequency band is crowded with radio devices and can be prone to interference and disruption from other transmissions – especially over longer distances. It also isn’t as secure as the private frequencies bestowed by an Ofcom licence.

If you only operate over short distances and don’t use your radios to broadcast confidential conversations, then licence-free two-way radios may be a viable option. Licence-free radio handsets tend to be cheaper than their licensed counterparts, providing an entry level radio for small businesses and occasional use.

Handsets can generally also be used straight away out of the box, following a quick charge. If time is an issue for your business, licence-free radios can be an urgent short-term solution, while considering your options for a longer-term radio communication strategy.

The range will be shorter, covering little more than a mile at most, but this won’t be an issue if you only need the two-way radios for short informal communication across a limited site.

There is a higher chance of interference from other license-free two-way radios due to the lack of a private frequency, however the shorter range of these licence-free options may compensate for this and means it should not happen too often.

Two way radios from DTS Solutions

For all your two way radio solutions or if you need professional advice on the best option for your business, please get in touch with our knowledgeable team at DTS Solutions. Our certified engineers have years of experience working with both versions of two-way radios and can recommend a solution to fit your requirements and budget.