What is a Two-Way Radio?

A two-way radio is simply a radio that can both transmit and receive (a transceiver). In broader terms, most of voice wireless communications systems, including cellular systems, fall into two-way radio definition.

Portable two-way radios are often called walkie-talkies or handie-talkies. Two-way radios are also available in mobile (installed in a vehicle) and base (in your office) configurations as well as utilizing radio network infrastructure.

A two-way radio is typically equipped with a “Push-To-Talk” PTT button to activate the transmitter. User just simply presses the PTT button and can immediately start to talk. User releases the PTT button to listen to others.

Two-way radio can “talk” directly to other radios or use radio network infrastructure. A direct talk among radios (usually also known as direct operation or talk around mode) has limited range due to limitation of radio power. To overcome this limitation, a radio repeater can be utilized to extend communication range.

Why Use a Two-Way Radio?

With various wireless technology options and two way radio being one of the “earliest” wireless technologies, you might be questioning whether two-way radio is still a current technology. The answer is yes and the following are the key points that uniquely differentiate two-way radio to other wireless technology:

Instant communication

Two-way radio provides instant communication. The user only needs to press the “Push-To-Talk” (PTT) button and within fraction of a second, this user can immediately talk to convey his/her messages.

This is due to a quick call setup time embedded in the technology. This instantaneous communication capability is one of key factors of why many organizations rely on two-way radio for their tactical or operational communications.

Two- Way Radio Terms/Definitions:

Analog:

(Conventional) Analog systems communicate a single condition. Information is sent by changing the frequency, amplitude or phase of the radio signal.

Digital:

Digital systems, communicate text from computer-aided dispatch (CAD). Information is converted to true data bits, and applied directly to the radio transmitter using FDMA or TDMA or voice.

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