A walkie-talkie, more formally known as Licence Free radios in Kenya, handheld transceiver (HT), is a hand-held, portable, two-way radio transceiver. Radio transmitters including two way radios, and the VHF or UHF frequencies they operate on, are governed, licensed and coordinated by the Communications Authority in Kenya. Two way radios can operate on either licensed or license-free (PMR446) frequencies. License-free radios also called walkie talkies have the following:
- License-free radios are generally lower powered, handheld radios with a maximum power output of 0.5 watts, resulting in a shorter range.
- Depending on the surrounding terrain, the range of Licence Free radios in Kenya can vary from a few hundred meters in a built up area to a few kilometres in open ground.
- Use licence-free radios are called PMR which stands for Personal Mobile Radio
- 446 refers to the UHF frequency range 446MHz on which licence-free radios are permitted to operate.
Licence-free two way radios are manufactured with the frequencies already programmed in. Power sources can vary, from basic models which use AA
Benefits of a licence-free radio
- Less expensive than licenced radios
- Easy to use
- Pre-programmed radio frequencies
- No call charges
- Rechargeable versions give good operating time
- New digital technology has improved voice quality and performance
- No licence required
Disadvantages of licence-free radios
- Lower power, so their range is shorter
- Obstacles reduce the distance the signal can cover
- Their popularity means the channels can often be congested
- Not suitable for emergency use as channel usage is on a first-come-first served basis
- If users are too far apart they may suffer interference from other two-way radios within range
Typical walkie-talkies look like a telephone handset, with a speaker built into one end and a microphone in the other and an antenna or an aerial mounted on the top side of the unit. A walkie-talkie is a Multiple walkie-talkies use a single radio channel, and only one radio on the channel can transmit at a time, although any number can listen. The transceiver is normally in receive mode; when the user wants to talk they must press a “push-to-talk” (PTT) button that turns off the receiver and turns on the transmitter.
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