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Do You Need A Business Two Way Radio?

Construction WorkerWe frequently get questions from business customers asking if they really need to buy a "business" two way radio. Business radios are generally much more expensive than consumer radios and the features are often very similar, so it is easy to see why this can be confusing. In this post I'll try to explain the common differences between these types of radios, and hopefully provide enough information for you to decide what's best for your business.

FCC Regulations

Whether a 2 way radio is "business" or "consumer" is decided by the frequencies that it uses to transmit and receive communications. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set aside 22 UHF frequencies as general frequencies for use by consumers. These frequencies make up GMRS and FRS channels that are supported by the consumer radios that we sell.

Technically, use of the GMRS channels requires an FCC license. This license is good for 5 years and covers the applicant and his/her immediate family. GMRS licenses are not issued to businesses. Here is a note from the FCC's GMRS license application form (form 605):

Note: For GMRS: effective January 1, 1989, new or major modification applications may NOT be filed by non-individual (business) applicants/licensees. (See Rule 1.929(c) (4) & 95.5(b).

For GMRS radios to be legally used by businesses, each person using the radios would need an individual GMRS license ($80 each). A business could use the radios on an FRS channel without a license, but when using FRS channels the radio cannot transmit at more than a half watt of power. This is generally only good for a quarter to a half mile of outdoor range.

Business radios use different frequencies ranges that have been approved by the FCC for business use. These frequencies are not as popular, so you typically don't have to worry about "chatter" on your channels. You can also get business radios that operate on VHF frequencies, which work better than UHF outdoors or inside of and around wood structures. An FCC license for your business is $105. You will pay more upfront for your business radio, but if there are several employees that will use it you will likely save money after factoring in the license cost.

Durability

Business radios are usually designed to hold up to abuse better than consumer radios. Consumer radios are usually built for infrequent use: weekend hunting trips, multiple car caravans, skiing, camping, amusement parks, etc. They are usually lightweight with a thin plastic casing. Business radios are designed to be used for hours every day, and they will hold up better than consumer radios. Many are built to military specifications.

Battery Life

If your business plans to use radios for more than a few hours a day, battery life is something that you will not want to overlook. Most consumer radios include rechargeable batteries that are good for 8 hours or less of use. As is typical of batteries, this life will likely diminish slightly over time. Some business or professional radios are also limited in their battery life, but most will provide 12 hours or more on a charge.

Accessories

Business radios typically have a better selection of accessories than consumer radios. If accessories, such as headsets or earpieces, are important to your business, you should look at what accessories are available before you choose a radio. Things like rapid chargers and multi unit chargers are only available for business radios.
Accessories

Common Scenarios

There are some scenarios where a business radio is always your best choice. For example, anytime you expect to use the radio frequently and for more than 8 hours with each use. If you purchase a consumer radio for this, there is a good chance you will be disappointed with the battery life. Also, if you are in a "tough" work environment, such as a construction or industrial situation. Consumer radios are not designed to take this kind of beating.

It may be best to choose a consumer radio in a light-duty situation where very little range is needed. This would allow you to get away with only using the FRS channels and avoiding the license fees. A great example is a school that needs radios for directing traffic in mornings and afternoons.

I hope this has been helpful. If you have any specific questions you can, as always, feel free to call or email us!

Related Resources
Buyer's Guide - Business Radios
Common Business Radio Uses/Industries
The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-02 - An Introduction to Business Radios
The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-07 - Comparing Small Business Radios

17 Comments

Great website! Bookmarked! I am impressed at your work!

Do you know any companies who are selling these business radios to the big national chains?

Thanks,

Dave

Question: I bought two Business Radio so me and my friend can communicate better would I still need to register both of the radio's.


Thanks,

Mike

If you intend to use the radios legally, you would still need to apply for an FCC license for the frequencies you want to use.

Why is license necessary just to operate a radio whats the big deal? How would FCC KNOW IF YOUR ON THE RADIO OR JOHN Doe or who ever? Do they have a tracking device or what? I need 2-way radio that's powerful because my friend and i goes rock climbing and usually we explore diff area's to fine a good place to hang out on sides of cliff's. Thanks !!!

I looked into a business radio license thru FCC last summer, and was told that a third party radio consultant had to be hired to check antenna height and set up and check interfearence with police/fire and other business radios. It was over $10,000.00 and that they would make the decision on what frequancy we transmit on. Has this law changed? All I wanted to use was two handsets. Fcc would not issue license until notified by consultants. That's why I use Murs radio.

Seems like a rather expensive project..
Is it worth it ?

Do I need a FCC li enzd in NYC to install two way radios in the taxi industry

I OWN A TOWING AND REPO COMPANY AND COVER ALL OF EASTERN WASHINGTON WITCH WOULD BE BEST RADIOS TO USE OFFICE TO TRUCK ALL THE TIME IN THIS TYPE OF BUISNESS? THANKS
PIETER

We have been using two way radios, but none of them really last too long in our extreme working conditions.

If I want to use my consumer radios on gmrs channels during weekends while playing Paintball to get through dense woods (without a license) what are the odds the FCC will find and fine me?

You're an indivivual so it doesn't matter. They won't find or fine you, i use the itinerants all the time even in the city. If you're a business though than you should, because the only time something does happen it is on businesses with money. The FCC needs it to be profitable, personal users like with friends is a waste of their time and money so they don't.

I know that some projects or contracts can be way off the beaten track. Cell phone reception might not be an option. However, if this isn't a common for your business, it might be a good idea to rent or hire a two-way radio service. You make a great point about how there are different frequencies that are used for business or the public. This can be important to consider when you select your equipment. Thanks for the post.

Good point, Alex, that's why we also offer two way radios rentals for those who only need them for contract work or short term projects. If you need radios, we have them. Thanks for the feedback!

My children needed to fill out FCC Form 605 a few days ago and located a web service that has a huge forms library . If you need FCC Form 605 too , here's [link removed]

Sharleen, the link was removed due to security concerns. If you need FCC Form 605 to apply for a GMRS license or other authorization, you can download it directly from the FCC web site at https://transition.fcc.gov/Forms/Form605/605.html. The FCC does not charge for access to these forms.

Thanks for pointing out that for GMRS radios to be legally used by businesses, each person using the radios would need an individual GMRS license. You also mention that if the people using the radios do not have licenses, they are only good for a quarter to half a mile of outdoor range. I think it's important to choose a two-way radio who's manufacturer offers a guarantee on their product so that if it does break, you do not have to pay for the repairs yourself.

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