Two Way & Weather Radios

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Businesses use two-way radios to keep employees in touch with each other and to coordinate actions with other companies in the field. Unlike one-way radios, such as the weather radio that carries official bulletins, two-way units let the receiver talk back to the original sender and help keep members of a team on the same page while they're working away from local phone service or on opposite sides of a warehouse.

Two-Way Radios Versus Cellphones
Radios have several distinct advantages over cellphones for two-way communication. Radios don't use transmission towers or complicated networks to transmit signals. This eliminates the need for potentially costly service plans, and users are able to talk as much or as little as necessary without incurring charges. Radios are also faster and easier than phones; instead of dialing a number and waiting for the other party to answer, radio users can just press the transmit key and send their message, which goes straight to the other party.

Two-Way Radios Can Travel Almost Anywhere
Handheld radios are popular among contractors, road crews, and emergency personnel. Part of their appeal is their rugged design and tough casings that make them hard to break even under adverse conditions. Such units are also typically lightweight, which allows them to clip onto a belt and stay out of the way until needed. Larger, heavier high-power units are typically mounted on the dashboards of vehicles, where weight is less of a consideration than space. Field supervisors frequently use these versatile units for broadcasting to and taking reports from their team members.

Safe Communication Over Two-Way Radios
Civilian radios usually broadcast in all directions. If the communications are "in the clear," then anyone with a suitable receiver unit may listen in or answer back. To get around this potential security problem, many radios offer sophisticated encryption programs that scramble signals before transmitting. The receiving unit, which has the same encryption software, then unscrambles the noise it gets and conveys the message. Unwelcome listeners typically only get unintelligible static, which keeps radio transmissions as secure as private phone calls.

How Do Two-Way Radios Communicate?
Personal radio sets start transmitting when the user presses the transmit button. The device's microphone picks up the sender's voice and converts it into electronic signals, which are then transmitted from the device itself, without contacting any third parties or using local towers. This somewhat limits the range to around 0.5 miles for small sets, though larger units have more power and can transmit over longer ranges.

Do Two-Way Radios Require a License to Use?
Radio communication in the United States is regulated by the FCC. The Commission recognizes several discrete bands for radio communication, such as Citizens Band Radio Service (CB), Family Radio Service (FRS), General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), and Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS). Only GMRS operators need licenses to broadcast.

Are Two-Way Radios Complicated?
Though the technology in them is very advanced, most personal-use radios are easy to use. The simplest models are preset to certain frequency ranges and let users transmit by clicking on and talking. More complex and flexible units allow frequency hopping, signal boosting, and other complicated actions that may take some training or experience to use.

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