• Education Radios

Digital vs Analogue radios

So you're in the market for a new set of radios for your school. You've done some research and have been inundated with quotes and technical spec sheets. One of the main questions you may have is what are the differences between analogue and digital radios?

Let's start with the basics.

Both radios use UHF (Ultra High Frequency) channels, the best choice for use in a school as UHF signals penetrate buildings and glass far better than VHF. Both radios can work on the same set of frequencies assigned by Ofcom (don't worry we look after all the Ofcom requirements for you).

If both radios use UHF channels and even the same frequency why the price difference?

The key is how the radio sends your voice from one radio to the next. Analogue radios do just that, send your voice as an analogue signal from point A to point B. Same as an FM radio would in your car, the radio station broadcasts the voice/music which travels over the air and is received in exactly the same format by your car radio. This also means that many car radios can tune in to the same radio frequency and hear the same radio station transmission.

Digital radios don't send your voice as an analogue voice signal, they do some fancy bits before even sending the transmission. Firstly the background noise is removed from the transmission, everything but your voice is cancelled out by using fancy DSP signal processing. This makes for a much cleaner, clearer transmission. Secondly the digital radio turns your analogue voice in to data, 1's and 0's in effect. This has many benefits but one of the main ones is that only the radio(s) you are transmitting to can decipher the data and hear your voice. When the digital radio converts your voice to data it also uses a level of encryption that allows only the holder of the key to decrypt that data. Stopping anyone with another radio or say a scanner to be able to hear the voice transmission. Cool eh? What the radio also does before sending the data is attaches more information regarding who can receive the data full stop. So if your radio is set up to call all other users everyone will receive the call. You may have selected a certain group of users using your radio or even just one user in particular. Digital radios can make one to all, one to some and one to many calls. This both keeps your transmissions private but also keeps general chit chat on the main channel to a minimum. For example, does class 9 need to know the site manager has managed to unblock the gents toilet? No. The site manager may send that transmission only to the office staff or head teacher. So now your radio has removed all background noise, converted your voice to data, added an encryption key and told the data which radios should receive it. All within 30ms. Phew!

Analogue radios do still have a place. 75% of schools will benefit just from traditional analogue two way radios. We would only recommend digital radios when there are more than 10 users on the system or privacy is of a great concern. As mentioned digital radios allow you to split your users in to groups keeping their transmissions within their group (with the ability to call other groups or everyone if required).

If you want to know more about wether analogue or digital radios would be right for your individual situation and school please get in touch. Our radio experts are totally impartial and will always recommend the right radio for requirement and budget. We never force sell people on to the most expensive or highest profit product. We care about our customers and schools, that's why they keep coming back year after year.

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