Two-way radios, or walkie-talkies, come with several channels with their own specific frequencies. The channel list can vary depending on radio models and usage. For most business/consumer-grade two-way radios, you can roam around 16 channels. And for professional and advanced uses, the number of channels can be over 30.
Selecting the perfect channel from all those bands can be tricky, specifically in emergency situations. Let’s learn how you can master the selection of the best channels by knowing from A to Z about the frequencies and walkie-talkies in this article.
How to Select the Perfect Radio Channel
There are some key rules or ideas that you need to always keep in mind before you get a walkie-talkie for yourself and be able to select the proper radio channels in different kinds of situations. Those guidelines are:
Research and Planning
The very first thing required for mastering the perfect radio channel selection is to do research and get yourself familiarized with the two-way radio frequency guidelines and local regulations. As the regulations vary by location, it’s a very important thing to do before you start planning on using the radio.
Licensed Frequency Bands
Some specific frequencies or channels require licenses to provide dedicated channels and minimize risks. If you’re a professional or need a very private and secured channel, then consider obtaining the necessary licenses for that frequency.
If you’re in a location where a lot of people use walkie-talkies, then the channels can become overcrowded with a lot of interference. So try to avoid those congested channels for faster communication.
There are always some emergency channels, like the government channel, the weather channel, and some other designated channel. However, avoid using those channels unless you’re in a dire situation.
Monitoring and Testing
When you want to use the walkie-talkie, first monitor your selected channel to see if any ongoing communication is happening. This testing will ensure clear communication.
Daily new technologies regarding two-way radio communication are evolving. You need to make sure to always keep track of them to get improved audio quality and tighter security as soon as they are introduced to the market.
The two-way radios we use in modern times use frequency bands from around 138 to 938 megahertz or Mhz. This frequency range can be divided into three more ranges as they have some common characteristics.
Very high frequency is known as VHF, and it operates within the range of 138-174 MHz. This band gives the best experience in flat and open terrain and works better at communicating over long distances. Usually, field operations, agriculture, long-haul trucking, outdoor communities, fire departments, and public safety commissions in rural or semi-urban areas mostly use VHF.
For VHF with the best experiences, there shouldn’t be obstructions in the middle, as even dense greenery can interfere with VHF signals. That’s why rural open areas are perfect for this frequency, as there are usually no tall buildings and a clearer line of sight.
The frequency band from 400 to 512 MHz is known as UHF, or ultra-high frequency. This band is the most popular frequency band among the users of the walkie-talkie, as this radio works better even if you’re indoors or there are obstacles between the users. Even concrete, glass, and most other thick materials can be easily penetrated by UHF signals.
Big cities with or without densely packed buildings are best suited for UHF radios, and that’s why almost 80% of the business radios offer UHF frequencies. Hotel and education services, manufacturing and warehouses, taxi services, or any special events are the most common uses of UHF radios.
However, this frequency band has some drawbacks. For example, the signals may penetrate through solid objects, but they can’t travel as far as VHF signals. Also, this frequency can sometimes get interrupted by nearby TV stations, as they also use the UHF band frequency.
800 and 900 MHz Bands
The 800 MHz band has a frequency of 806-824 MHz, and the 900 MHz band frequency is between 851 and 869 MHz. As these bands have the highest frequencies in the two-way radio system, they can penetrate almost everything.
Special public services like firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians are the main users of these two frequency bands. Although some private and commercial radio systems also use these frequencies. Also, manufacturing and utility services, land transportation, and petrochemical companies use the 900 MHz band.
However, to use these frequencies properly and effectively, we will need carefully and strategically placed antennas. And you will also require licenses to use these high frequencies.
How to Choose the Best Two-Way Radio
For the best experience with two-way radio communication, you’ll require the best walkie-talkies along with the perfect channels. To get the best radios, you can follow these tips:
- For noncommercial outdoor usage, you can get license-free FRS (Family Radio Service) radio units. And for more powerful radio, get licensed GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) radio units.
- Don’t buy a radio depending on the advertised range; consider the distance of the line of sight for the most effective communications.
- Search for radios that come with advanced features like privacy codes. Settings lock, easy pairing, and voice-activated transmission for smoother and safer communication.
- It will be safer for you to buy radio models that can pair with phone apps that will allow you to send location coordinates and text messages to the same model of radios users nearby.
- If your work is in a watery or tropical area where there’s a high chance that the walkie-talkies can get wet, then consider buying water-resistant two-way radios.
- Radios that work with both rechargeable and alkaline batteries are safer options for emergency situations.
For different kinds of situations, the frequency selection can vary with different regulations. That’s why you should make sure to get advice from your local two-way radio suppliers, as they can give you an exact solution to your problem that can help you stick to the regulations and get the most-effective experience with the two-way radios.