Licence free vs Licensed radios
Updated: Jun 15
Confused between the two? Let us give you some information to help you choose.
All two-way radios are grouped in to two main categories. Licence free and Licensed.
Licence Free Radios
Licence free radios (as the name states) do not require an Ofcom licence to operate. Licence free radios (commonly known as 446 radios) are limited to 0.5w output power and the frequencies (channels) the devices use are shared. In essence you are sharing the channel you're using with other radio users in the area. Due to the low power output of 446 radios this isn't necessarily a problem as the signal doesn't travel very far. Small sites, primary schools, forest schools and nurseries normally get full site coverage with a licence free radio without interference from adjacent radio users in the area. This is not always the case, if you turn on a licence free radio in the centre of London or any other major city you will struggle to find a free channel. You'll be hearing taxis, motorcycle schools, building sites and sometimes the language is not what you want to be coming out of your radios in the classroom!
“If you are a remote, small site, licence free radios will be the best option”
The most popular licence free radio we sell is the Pumaradio PR-350LF, small, light, compact and cost effective. This model is currently on offer in our April Bundle Special at £599 ex vat for six radios with extended warranty.
If your site is spread out across multiple buildings, you have large playing fields or in a newer type building with integrated steel supports in the walls you might want to look at analogue licensed radios as a starting point. Licensed radios are ten times more powerful than licence free radios (5w) giving them a lot more umph! As well as a much greater operating distance licensed radios come with larger batteries and bigger speakers as standard. You will need an Ofcom licence to operate the radios on site, this costs just £75, covers you for as many radios as you like for use anywhere in the UK. It is renewable every 5 years direct with Ofcom. Don't worry though, we will do all the paperwork for you and assist with paying the first fee (as Ofcom require payment via card which some schools don't have the facility to do). We can activate licenses instantly so not to delay the delivery of your new radio system. Licensed radios are also more secure than licence free radios as the frequencies they use are not available to the public. Only business and educational organisations have access to the channels provided. We also program the radios in such a way to minimise any interference you will receive.
Our best selling licensed radio is the Pumaradio PR-585. It has a super robust 'hidden' LCD display and ultra loud speaker. This is not a leisure radio, it is purely for the business user who is maybe a little rough with their radio!
In conclusion our skilled staff will be able to recommend which type of radio is the most suitable depending on your site and requirements. Please give us a call to ask any questions or to get a bespoke quote 01274 911340