Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of 2-way radio over cell phone?

Cell phone and radio are communication tools, however, their uses and benefits are very different. While most of us now rely on our cell phones for general communications such as texting, email and phone calls, 2-way radios offer the following key advantages:

  • Radio works in remote or rural areas where cell phone doesn’t. This is why certain industries like forestry and farming use radio to ensure they maintain communications across the work environment.
  • Radio provides instant “push to talk” communication to individuals or groups of users. This is why it is the preferred medium in an emergency or in other time critical situations.
  • Over and above voice calls modern digital radio can offer a range of other features and functions such as dividing the channel into groups, man down/lone worker options, GPS tracking, text messaging, phone interconnect and individual calling.
  • Radio is often a robust and cost-effective alternative to cell phone.

What is kind of range/distance can I expect from my radio?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions and the answer is not straightforward. Often promotional material will exaggerate the range but the reality is that the actual range will vary depending on the a combination of factors such as the frequency, obstructions, weather, wattage/power, antenna and use of repeaters. It is vital that you discuss your requirements and get sound advice from a reputable dealer before you purchase.

What’s the difference between analogue and digital?

Analogue wave technology has been the primary medium for two-way radio technology in New Zealand and around the world for the last century. For most users it continues to be useful and adequate for health and safety and operational communications.

Digital is a more recent and powerful technology which uses a computerised signal. It delivers crystal clear voice communications, increased range and advanced encryption technology allows for better call security and privacy.

Should I use VHF or UHF?

In general, VHF is best suited for long distance use in outdoor environments such as farming, forestry, aviation and marine, while UHF is more suitable in indoor, urban settings. The UHF band has a range of Public Radio Service (PRS) frequencies which are free for anyone to use.

Anyone wishing to use VHF/UHF licensed channels must either apply to Radio Spectrum Management to get them or get permission to use from the channel owner.

How important is wattage/power to the performance of my radio?

The wattage of a radio relates to how much power it can emit. Handheld or portable radios range from 1-5 watts. Mobile radios (installed into vehicles or as base sets in buildings) can have a higher wattage of up to 25 watts. Higher wattage contributes to better range but is only one the factors you need to consider before purchasing. It is important to think through your communication needs and then discuss with a reputable dealer to get the best result.

Do I need a license to use 2-way radio?

Within the UHF range there are Public Radio Service (PRS) frequencies (80 channels) which are available for anyone to use free of charge.

Anyone wishing to use VHF/UHF licensed channels must either apply to Radio Spectrum Management (RSM) to get one or get permission from the channel owner to use their channel(s).

Alcom is your one-stop shop for to help you through the process of applying for a new license, getting authorisations and purchase and programming of radio equipment.

Get in touch with us to discuss your communication needs.