Conventional vs Trunked Radios

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Two way radio systems – colloquially referred to as ‘walkie-talkies’ – are useful tools for communicating with another person located within a modest radius (although long range walkie-talkies can work across fairly significant distances). These tools enable us to stay in touch regardless of available cell signal, and in a way that is free and relatively secure. That in turn gives them a wide range of useful applications, ranging from construction sites, to mountain rescue (an alternative to a satellite phone).

Whatever your need, when choosing the best walkie-talkies, you need to understand the different types and their unique benefits. One of the first big decisions you’ll need to make, is between conventional radios vs trunked radios. So what’s the difference?

Conventional Radio Systems

As the name might imply, a conventional radio system is a ‘standard’ walkie-talkie and is very simple to this end. These radios have dedicated ‘channels’ which are intended for particular groups and individuals, with the user being able to manually pick from those channels.

So channel 1 might be used to speak with your security team, while channel 2 might be for customer service. This makes it easier for site managers to quickly address large groups as necessary. This also means that if a user is currently on one of the channels, the next person will need to wait before they can broadcast. This can lead to transmission jams, which may impede the flow of information.

Ultimately, the usefulness of the conventional radio system will likely depend on the number of people using the system. In many cases, they can support up to 70 users on a channel.

Trunked Radio Systems

Trunked radio systems on the other hand are a little more flexible and potentially able to support much larger numbers of users. This is because the radios will be able to pick from available channels, whenever someone attempts to speak.

So for instance, if a manager picks up their radio in order to speak with a security guard, then the radio will assign them to an available channel – thereby ensuring that there will be no ‘jam’ as they wait to get through. Here, the term trunk refers to the communication ‘paths’.

That does however mean that this system is considerably more complicated, and makes it somewhat more challenging to quickly switch between channels.

There are many groups that will not need to use trunked systems, and in those cases it might be easier to stick with the more straightforward conventional radio.

Another advantage of this though, is that it makes it harder for someone with a digital police scanner or similar to listen in. Seeing as the channel continuously changes (and therefore the frequency), they can’t simply sit on that wavelength and wait for your next message.

Closing Thoughts

Ultimately, finding the right radio for the job will make your life much simpler and can potentially lead to better outcomes and fewer accidents. Spend some time researching the different terms and make sure you invest your money wisely.

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