If you or your business are looking to purchase two way radios, you might already be asking questions about the difference between licensed and unlicensed models. You may be wondering why one is better than the other, why you might need a license, and why one is slightly more expensive than the other.

Here we take you through the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of unlicensed and licensed two way radios. 


Licensed two way radios

Licensed two way radios are specially programmed with a unique frequency that you can legally and securely use. They are often used by large businesses, hospitals, and transportation companies, but they are also ideal for anyone who might find themselves in an emergency situation.

Ofcom issues the license and unique frequency in the UK (ComReg in The Republic of Ireland). There are different licenses to cover the scope of use, including light, geographical, and technical licenses.

Light/simple licenses start from £75 for five years. A site-specific or geographical permit is more expensive but ensures no-one else can legally hear your conversations. These two way radios must be used within their defined location and may be more costly in high-demand areas such as London.

With general and nationwide UK licenses, you may share a frequency with another user, but the walkie talkies can be configured to tune out any interference. 

The radio models are roughly eight times more powerful than unlicensed two way radios. They have more powerful batteries that give greater coverage. The manufacturer may promote greater ranges than can often be achieved, but the typical range is just over two miles, over flat terrain. You can use a repeater to extend your coverage over challenging terrain. 


License free two way radios

You can use license free two way radios straight out of the box. Simply charge them up and follow the instructions in the manual. These walkie talkies are cheaper than licensed models, and there no extra-cost or requirement to obtain a permit.

This choice is for anyone who does not need extensive coverage and only requires communication within a small area. The achievable range is roughly a mile, but this depends on the terrain, surrounding buildings, and infrastructure. If you are looking for something for casual leisure use, for pursuits such as hiking or cycling, then this option is ideal. It also a solution that small event management firms can consider.

Licensed radios will not interfere with license-free units. However, you may experience interference or hear conversations from other people or businesses using license free two way radios in your immediate area.

You should also consider the security or confidentiality of your calls because other users of two way radios in your location may be able to hear your conversations if they are using the same frequency. There is a smaller range of units to choose from, but they are easy to use and have advanced noise cancellation features. You can also select tough and waterproof models for use outdoors under any weather condition.