A Two-Way Radio Buying Guide for Businesses

Given the numerous benefits of enhanced voice and data communication that can be provided by two-way radio technology, businesses often turn to this solution when they need to ensure worker connectivity without being held back by some of the pitfalls of cellular communication.

Whether you need to be able to communicate reliably during emergency situations that jeopardize cellular networks or your industry demands that you have instantaneous push-to-talk (PTT) voice communications, two-way radios can prove invaluable.

When shopping for two-way radio solutions that can help meet your business needs, there are a variety of factors to consider, including:

  • Whether to opt for digital or analog models.
  • Additional features you may require besides voice communication.
  • The ability of the devices to withstand drops, dust, and water.

Whether you’re looking to purchase or rent two-way radios, we’ll explore some of the important factors that can help you narrow down your choices.

Motorola Tiers of Two-Way Radios

Motorola tiers their two-way radios in three main categories that scale upwards in quality, performance, features/software, and durability: Entry-Tier, Mid-Tier, and High-Tier.

Entry Tier Radios are also referred to as “commercial tier”, “business radios”, or perhaps “on-site” radios.  Just because they are considered entry tier, it does not mean that these radios won’t be right for your job.  In fact, the CP200D is the best-selling Motorola radio to date, and is often called the workhorse radio.

Mid Tier Radios are in Motorola’s “professional radio” catalog and are often purchased by users who are keen on performance today, and flexibility for the future.  The best-selling mid-tier radio is the XPR3500e, which has outstanding durability along with the software capability to expand into multiple Motorola MOTOTRBO radio topologies including IP Site Connect and Capacity Plus.

High Tier Radios are also in Motorola’s “professional radio” catalog and are purchased by users who demand the most out of their radios.  The best-selling high-tier radio is the XPR7550e which has best in class durability, audio quality, and the full array of application and system topology options.  Consider that if you purchase a mid-tier product, you may need to pay for additional features that would otherwise come standard with higher-end options.

Best Two-Way Radios for Businesses

Two-way radios provide a reliable avenue of communication that can operate independently of cellular networks, which can fail or prove unreliable in emergency situations. In addition to the  convenient, instantaneous connectivity of two-way radio, there are a number of other considerations when selecting your two way radio.

Analog vs. Digital Two-Way Radio

The question of whether to opt for an analog or digital two-way radio system is one of the first items you’ll have to resolve on your buying journey.

Some people are drawn to the relative simplicity and price point of analog radios, which can offer the PTT voice connectivity they’re looking for with a few extra features. For these buyers, analog may be the best solution for their limited budget.

However, digital two-way radios provide expanded functionality, and they represent an investment in a system that can be built upon into the future.

Some of the benefits of digital two-way radios include:

  • Longer battery life.
  • Better noise reduction and audio quality.
  • Added flexibility for system coverage and capacity.
  • Expansive options for add-on features, applications, and accessories.

In addition, experts anticipate that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will force users to go to digital in the near future. Considering that high-quality two-way radios have a use life lasting many years, digital is often the preferred option for forward-thinking buyers.

Do I Need to Buy a FCC License?

The type of FCC license that you own will dictate some of your options when it comes to two-way radio selection.  The most common radio spectrum used for businesses are UHF and VHF, operating in 403-512 MHz and 136-174 MHz respectively.  There are also licensed land mobile radio users operating within the 800-900 MHz bands as well, although it is less common.  Of course, users have the ability to modify or obtain new FCC licenses if their current license does not meet their needs.

For users operating in a small area who don’t need access to additional features and want to forgo FCC licensing requirements, a simple 900 MHz model could suit their needs.  There are a couple of options for non-licensed 900 MHz radios out there.  And lastly, there is one option available for non-licensed radio in the VHF MURS band called the RMM2050.

For all other businesses, the FCC License is a critical part of your radio purchase.  Not only does it provide you with the best opportunity for clear and un-interfered communication, it also keeps you compliant with the FCC.  And the illegal transmission of two-way radio (operating without a license) can cost your business up to $8000 per day in fines.

Extra Features and Capabilities

Many radio users find that investing in digital two-way radio technology opens the door to other features that have the potential to improve safety, efficiency and more.

Here are some of the handy features that can be made available with the purchase of certain digital two-way radio models:

  • Lone Worker and Man Down Notifier (MDN): For operators in potentially hazardous work environments, these functions can prove to be valuable safety features. The Lone Worker function monitors the time interval between user interactions with the radio. If it exceeds a predetermined length, an alarm is sent to the user so they can confirm if they are safe. If they do not respond, an alarm is activated. MDN works the same way, except it’s triggered based on the positioning of the radio, which could indicate that a worker has fallen down.
  • Built-in GPS: The location of the radio can be monitored to help with fleet dispatch, safety programs and other needs. In-building location tracking is available for some models, too.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Users may select two-way radio models that allow them to pair their devices with specific Bluetooth accessories, like headsets and PTT pods or long-range wireless adapters.
  • Digital radio system flexibility: These systems offer scalability based on your evolving digital two-way radio needs. From secure trunked solutions to wide-area coverage and in-building systems that leverage repeaters and internet connectivity for enhanced communications, digital radio systems can be adapted to suit your needs.

Durability Considerations

The ability to stand up to tough conditions is a crucial deciding factor for purchasing two-way radios in many fields, including utilities, manufacturing, construction and more. Motorola radios are rated for drops, operating temperature ranges, dust/water intrusion, and shock among others. For the most part, durability increases with Motorola product tier.  In order to satisfy regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, users in certain environments may have to select equipment that is certified to be intrinsically safe, meaning they have been certified to not cause a spark, therefore, an explosion in a hazardous environment.

Radio options in the Motorola XPR3000e and XPR7000e lines typically feature high ingress protection (IP) ratings as well, making them water submersible.  In addition, all mid-tier and high-tier radio models come with a standard 5 year warranty.

Sticker Shock on Two Way Radio Cost?

Have you received a quote on two way radios and were surprised by the cost?  If you’re new to two way radio, you are not alone.  However, those who have been dealing with radios for many years understand the value and ROI that two-way radio brings to your operation.  Of course you cannot compare the quality and performance you receive with the “multi-pack” radios that are sold at big box stores.  Those are meant for recreation use only, and the range claims are often outlandish.  Radios that are meant for businesses should last you many years, and ultimately cost you well under $1 per day, per radio.  Low interest financing can also help you spread your payments out over a longer time period.

We’re Here to Help You

At the end of the day, there are a variety of factors to consider when you’re deciding which two-way radio solution is right for your operations. When you shop with the experts at Day Wireless Systems for portable two-way radios or mobile setups, you can filter results by industry, product tier and digital or analog specifications. We also provide our clients with FCC licensing information and support, as well as tailored wide-area coverage solutions.  Most importantly, don’t feel like you need to make this decision on your own.  Our experienced sales team is ready to help you select the right radio.

For further information about how we can help you find the right two-way radio option for your business, contact us today.

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