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A Guide to the Different Types of Radios

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Do you work in security or the emergency services? Maybe you’re based on a remote offshore oil rig, well out of the range of mobile phone or internet connectivity. Perhaps you’re part of a transportation fleet, and you need a way to communicate with other drivers that doesn’t involve a distracting phone call.

Enter the radio, the unsung hero of two way communication. Don’t let the rise of smartphones fool you! Different types of radios are everywhere, and they serve essential communication purposes all across society.

That’s why it’s worth knowing what they do and how they can work for you. Read on, and we’ll tell you all about the different types of radios that can make your work a little simpler every day.

Two Way Radio Frequencies

Most two way radios operate on the following frequencies:

  • VHF (Very High Frequency) – 138-174 MHz
  • UHF (Ultra High Frequency) – 400-512 MHz
  • 800MHz – 806-824 MHz and 850-869 MHz
  • 900MHz – 896-901 & 935-940 MHz

Lower frequencies work well over long distances, though walls and trees can interrupt their signals. Higher frequencies are more penetrating, so they can pass through walls easily. The trade-off is that they become less effective over long distances.

VHF and UHF radios are best for smaller-scale personal and commercial use. Public safety services in rural areas might use VHF radio, while urban businesses such as taxi fleets or security firms might prefer UHF. The highest frequencies are used by emergency services in urban areas, as well as by larger businesses like petrochemical or manufacturing companies.

Two Way Radio Systems

Based on its programming, your two way radio can transmit signals using simplex, conventional and trunked systems. When buying a two way radio, be sure to check which transmission methods it can handle!


Simplex systems transmit and receive information on a single channel. They only allow for radio to radio communication, with no repeaters to boost signals across longer distances.

Analog simplex, which uses analog transmissions to communicate, can be used on any radio – analog or digital. Digital simplex is less universal, and requires that all radios involved use the same digital technology to function.


Conventional systems use repeaters to boost signals and offer different channels for users to select. Like simplex systems, conventional systems can be either analog or digital.

Any digital radio can support a digital conventional system. Most non-Family Radio Service (FRS) analog radios can support an analog conventional system.


In a trunked system, your communication is sent from your radio to a control station which acts as a repeater. The control station then determines which channel and frequency will broadcast your message. Certain trunking systems can hold messages in a queue if too many communications take place at once.

Trunked systems only use digital transmissions. There is no direct radio-to-radio communication involved in a trunk system – everything passes through a repeater first.

Types of Radios

Two way radio communication has been around since 1923. That’s almost 100 years of development and innovation in the field!

Many different types of radios have come into use in that time. Here are some of the most common radios you might encounter.

Amateur Radio

Sometimes known as ham radio, amateur radio can transmit information on designated amateur radio channels. Amateur radio transmissions are regulated by the national government. If you want to operate an amateur radio, you will need a license to do so.

While amateur radio has limited utility in business circles, there’s a lively community of enthusiasts out there. So-called ‘hams’ make surprisingly innovative use of amateur radio!

CB Radio

CB stands for ‘citizens band,’ and it enables two-way communication over shorter distances. Depending on the size of your radio, it can be portable, and you won’t usually need a license to use it.

Unfortunately, if you have mountains, hills or trees interrupting your line of sight, your radio waves won’t be able to travel far.

With a limited number of channels, CB radio has become less and less popular over time. Truck drivers still use CB to share information in real time while on the road.

Weather Radio

A weather radio is a specialized receiver designed to pick up information about the weather. It enables remote places to receive information that could end up saving lives. This can make it a vital safety device in case of weather warnings or other natural hazards.

Even if you’re not in a remote location, a weather radio with backup power can pick up urgent weather information during emergencies. If you’re in an area prone to hurricanes, tornados or earthquakes, you can stay on top of developments if local infrastructure fails.

Walkie Talkies

Walkie talkies are the most basic type of two way radio. They operate on extremely limited frequencies, with a much shorter range than even the most basic radio. As a result, they’re usually cheaper to buy!

They’re small and portable, useful for communicating quickly over short distances. For small-scale communication needs, a walkie talkie can be an invaluable investment.

Finding the Right Frequency

The market for two-way radios can seem crowded at first glance. With so many different types of radios on offer, it’s hard to know which one will be the right fit for your business.

That’s where we come in! BK Fire Radios is a family-owned business with a commitment to providing you with full-service support. Our technicians are licensed with the FCC, so you can be confident that our radio systems will get the message through.

If your radio systems need tuning up, contact BK Fire Radios today. We offer quantity pricing, so whatever the size of your operation, we’ll make sure you’re covered.

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