Analogue & PMR446 FAQ’s
Q: What is the range of Kenwood analogue two-way radios?
A: The range of radios is entirely dependent on where they are used and whether there are any obstructions like hills, buildings etc between the radios. Licensed radios are capable of working over several miles providing there is good line of sight but the range will be reduced by any obstructions.
Q: What is the range of Kenwood PMR446 license free two-way radios?
A: All PMR446 portable radios are built to the same standard output power defined by legislation. This is much lower than the output power of a licensed portable, so the range is correspondingly shorter. Technically there would be no difference between manufacturers except in the quality of the components and circuitry, which can and do improve signal and voice clarity. In perfect unobstructed ‘line of sight’ conditions it is possible to achieve 2-3 kilometres.
Q: What type of license will I need to operate a two-way radio?
A: If you are using any two-way radio other than a PMR446 radio (i.e. a Professional Business Radio (PBR) or Private Mobile Radio hand-portable, mobile, base station or repeaters) you will require a license. Licensed two-way radios offer a greater degree of protection from interference from other users, depending on the license type and also deliver greater range and enhanced features and functionality. In the UK, business radio licenses are issued by Ofcom in six categories:
Simple UK Light:
These systems transmit speech messages from hand-portable to hand-portable radios anywhere in the UK, operating without a base station. Users have shared access to a set number of frequencies and signalling tones along with all other customers who hold a Simple UK Light licence.
Simple Site Light:
Uses include localised voice and paging systems for sites using a base station and antenna. Return messages cannot be sent to the base station. The coverage area is required to be within the premises or perimeter of a local site, completely under the control of the licensee such as factories, nursing homes and housing associations. Licensees (or in practice their suppliers) choose from a range of frequencies shared with other users of this type of licence. Typical distance covered is up to three kilometres.
A Business Radio Suppliers licence permits licensee to:
- service and repair business radio and marine equipment
- hire out business radio (including trunked business radio) and/or radio paging equipment to customers for up to one year
- allocate business radio (including trunked business radio) equipment to customers awaiting Business Radio licences, for up to three months (‘parking’)
- demonstrate business radio (including trunked business radio) equipment to customers for up to 8 days
There are a range of frequencies to choose from shared with other users of this type of licence.
For customers who wish to have a particular frequency assigned to them within a stated coverage area (x km around a National Grid Reference which will be shown on the licence). Typical users include transport such as buses and taxis, energy suppliers, shopping precincts and factories. Coverage can range from one to one hundred kilometres depending on the customer’s requirement.
An Area Defined licence allows you exclusive use of a frequency within a defined area. This area can encompass a 50km2 map square, a country or you can choose to operate the frequency across the United Kingdom.
Q: Where can I use PMR446 license free two-way radios?
A: A PMR446 hand-portable walkie talkie can be used by anyone, anywhere and are ideal for many professional applications from construction to retail and event management, in and around factories and warehouses and in farming. Kenwood Pro-Talk PMR446 are the choice of professional users while the UBZ range is best suited to semi-professional and recreational users.
PMR446 radios can be used in many EU countries; for a full list, please visit the European Communications Office here.
Q: What is a repeater?
A: A repeater is effectively an unmanned automatic base station – it receives signals from hand-portable and/or mobile radios within a licensed radio system and re-transmits them in real time on a slightly different frequency. As it is much more powerful than a normal portable radio and its antenna is usually located above roof height, to give good overall site coverage, it therefore provides much better range and coverage for users. For on-site systems with repeaters, e.g. shopping centres, factory complexes, warehouses, hospitals etc, there may be additional antennas located within the building to achieve better coverage in less accessible areas, for instance basements and underground car parks.
Q: What is the difference between ‘lone worker’ and ‘man down’ features?
A: The lone worker feature prompts the radio’s user (for example: security staff, maintenance engineers, health visitors and community workers) at pre-defined intervals. The user is required to respond to this prompt within a short period or the radio assume the user is incapacitated in some way – it then sends a digitally coded radio message to the control centre and/or other users in range to summon help or to warn their colleagues.
The man down feature is effectively a tilt mechanism on a hand-portable radio activated if it is tilted beyond a selected angle for a pre-defined duration, e.g. when the user is lying on the ground. Like “Lone Worker”, the radio then sends a coded warning message.
Q: I currently operate a licensed analogue two-way radio system. is it possible to upgrade to the advantages of a digital system without scrapping my entire existing system?
A: Yes you can, with a NEXEDGE® NXDN™ digital radio system which features Analogue/Digital Mixed Mode allowing NEXEDGE® radios to communicate automatically (without switching) with existing analogue radios (not PMR446) of any make. The system employs the same Class-C power amplifiers and site management equipment used for current analogue stations. A mixed analogue and NXDN™ digital fleets can share a NEXEDGE® base/repeater station in 12.5 kHz conventional “Mixed Mode,” providing uninterrupted and cost-effective service as long as needed and a straightforward migration path as your analogue equipment is replaced by digital. Also, NEXEDGE® trunked traffic channels can be shared with existing external analogue conventional or trunked logic controllers, extending service to fleets as a transition to NXDN™ trunking is underway.