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Walkie-Talkies vs Two-Way Radios - What's the Difference?

Walkie-Talkies vs Two-Way Radios - What's the Difference?

date Released On 10th May 2016

In most cases, walkie-talkies and two-way radios are interchangeable phrases for the same type of product. Find out why people think of them differently.

The terms "walkie-talkie" and "two-way radio" are often used interchangeably, even by professionals in our industry, but because they’re sometimes marketed in different ways, walkie-talkies are sometimes thought of a little bit differently to two-way radios.

Marketers often use the phrase "walkie-talkie" when they're referring to a more basic product, the type of device that might be promoted as a child’s toy, or used by hobbyists and business users with simple radio needs.

At Radio Trader, in common with many other commercial radio businesses, at least in the UK, we tend to use the term “two-way radio” more often, and so over time this phrase has become associated with a highly technical, professional radio with advanced features, aimed more at the business market. But even we call this type of high-end product a walkie-talkie sometimes. 

Are walkie-talkies the poor relation to two-way radios?

Not at all. It’s easy to see how the common usage descibed above may have given rise to the idea that a walkie-talkie is an inferior product, but technically speaking, that’s not the case.

There’s really just one situation where a two-way radio cannot be called a walkie-talkie, and that’s where the radio is not a hand-held portable handset, but is mounted in a vehicle or on a desk (known as a mobile radio). As the name suggests, walkie-talkies enable you to walk around.

In all other respects, there’s really no difference between two-way radios and walkie-talkies. Both are capable of transmitting and receiving a radio signal.

Walkie talkie licences and frequencies

The type of two-way radios often marketed as “walkie-talkies” tend to be the licence-free variety. These radios operate on one of the pre-programmed frequencies in the UK within the band 446.0 to 446.1 MHz. If this is the sort of product you're looking for, we sell a good range of licence free radios by Motorola, Kenwood, Icom, HYT and Hytera.

Although there are many good reasons for choosing a licence free radio, they do have lower power, a shorter range and can suffer interference from other users on the same channel.

If you’re using the phrase “walkie-talkie” in reference to an Ofcom-licensed “two-way radio”, however, your radio can be programmed to a dedicated UHF or VHF frequency.

Don’t worry about the label – whether you call it a two-way radio or a walkie-talkie, let us know what you need and we’ll find exactly the right solution for you.

Get in touch with us for friendly, expert advice – call 0151 676 2888

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