What is the difference between licensed and non licensed radios?

Non licensed radios are usually cheaper low cost radios and would normally be used for personal and light industrial use. For example, some license free radios are suitable for communication between friends and family at camp sites and ski resorts. Similarly, these radios might be suitable for light business use such as primary schools and very small building and warehouses.

Where there is minimal coverage required or very small buildings and communication between users is within a close range, these radios could be considered. Non licensed radios come pre-programmed with set transmitting frequencies. No specialist programming is necessary and once charged up the radios are ready for use.

Considerations:

In a high radio usage environment, for example, London, there will be lots of users of license free radios. It is important to clarify whether you need your conversations to be secure and not risk other users, of the same radio in a nearby building, hearing your conversations. If secure conversations are important then a licensed radio should be considered.

Licensed Radios are slightly more powerful radios and more robust than license free radios. These radios are generally more expensive. Importantly these radios require a dedicated frequency (by law), which is available from OFCOM. www.ofcom.org.uk A dedicated frequency is a frequency which the radios are programmed to which ensures that only those on the frequency can hear the transmissions.

This frequency needs to be ordered from OFCOM, which your radio dealer will organise for you. The frequency will arrive in the form of a number such as 444.12345. OFCOM will need to know where the radios will be used to ensure that the frequency given is not already in use by other radio users nearby. This is relatively straight forward and your dealership will handle this for you.

Your radio dealership will then programme these frequencies into the radios and this will enable them to ‘talk’ to each other.

Apart from being more robust and the conversation more secure, licensed radios offer much more functionality than their license free counterparts. You can now dial up individual users or make group calls and send text messages for example.

Considerations:

Licensed radios are slightly more powerful radios and should achieve slightly better coverage than license free radios. The audio quality should also be clearer than license free radios. These radios also have more functionality which means they do more. They are generally more expensive and you require a license from OFCOM to operate them.

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