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Radio Terminology Glossary

The Basics:

Here are some of the most common terms you’ll hear referencing communications equipment. If you just want a quick overview on the must-know terms, this section of our radio terminology glossary should help:

Two-Way Radio: A two-way radio is a device that transmits and receives voice communication. There are desktop transceiver units, as well as handheld radios often referred to as walkie-talkies.

Repeater: A two-way repeater is a device that receives and re-broadcasts your signal to provide more coverage. For example, law enforcement teams may use repeaters so they can amplify their range across a large town.

Base Station: A base station is a desktop radio device that transmits and receives voice communication. It’s the central hub of the communications system, and it’s often used by the head dispatcher.

Channel: The channel is the frequency on which radios communicate. Channels vary depending on the radio’s make and model.

Analog: Analog radios send and receive electrical signals similar to sound waves.

Digital: Digital radios send and receive signals as number patterns, similar to computers.

Push-to-Talk: The PTT button is included on all handheld radios. You press it when you want to transmit your voice.

We carry AT&T Enhanced Push-to-Talk solutions that add walkie-talkie functionality to mobile devices for nationwide coverage and easy communication with the push of a button.

Programming: Radios need to be programmed so they can all connect on the same channel properly. Our in-house experts can help with radio programming and we guarantee the compatibility of all products with your existing system.

Frequency/Band: The frequency is what transmits the signal and what the channel operates on. There are three radio frequencies and the radio terminology for frequencies is covered in more detail below.

Radio Terminology Glossary: Frequency Ranges

High Frequency (HF): High frequency is the range of frequencies between 3 and 30 MHz on the radio wave spectrum. HF radio is ideal for communicating long distances.

Very-high Frequency (VHF): Very-high frequency is the range of frequencies between 30 to 300 MHz on the radio wave spectrum. VHF radio is ideal for outdoor environments where line-of-sight between each device is not obstructed.

Ultra-high Frequency (UHF): Ultra-high frequency is the range of frequencies between 300 and 3,000 MHz (3GHz) on the radio wave spectrum. UHF radio is ideal for communicating indoors, as UHF transmissions penetrate obstacles more effectively.

Radio Terminology Glossary: Uncommon Terms

Squelch: Some devices have a squelch feature that cuts the signal when the radio isn’t in use. This prevents hiss and crackle sounds.

Scan: Some radios have a scan feature that automatically scans through various radio channels to find channels with activity on them.

Frequency Division Multiple Access (FDMA): Commonly used in satellite communication, FDMA allocates a specific channel to an individual user.

Relay Delay: Relay delay prevents transmission delays when using a repeater by keeping the repeater’s transmission open for 0 to 7 seconds after a user releases the PTT switch. This helps to facilitate more natural conversations without accidental interruptions.

Radio Terminology Glossary: FirstNet Terms

FirstNet (First Responder Network Authority) is a nationwide broadband network reserved for first responders. FirstNet includes advanced services, applications, and purpose-built devices that help emergency personnel to communicate as efficiently as possible. This radio terminology pertains specifically to FirstNet.

Situational Awareness and Detection: FirstNet uses various tools such as geo-location, mobile sensors, and other enhanced location services, providing live locational information to first responders and those who work with them.

Multi-Agency Communication and Collaboration: FirstNet makes it possible for emergency teams to collaborate using dynamic chat groups, text, voice, images, and video.

Internet of Things and Smart City Initiatives: FirstNet makes it possible for emergency personnel to send and receive mass notifications.

Rural Coverage: FirstNet provides viable communications solutions over vast rural areas.

Interoperability: Interoperability means that devices can communicate across multiple channel types, such as Land Mobile Radio (LMR) and Long-Term Evolution (LTE) cellular networks.

Radio Terminology Glossary: Devices and Accessories

Mobile Two-Way Radios:Mobile two-way radios are radios that can be used from a vehicle. They’re usually mounted in the dash and are commonly used by truck drivers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and EMS.

Wireless PA System: A wireless PA system can connect to your radio system so you can broadcast messages loudly to a large group of people. They’re commonly used for emergency situations, in schools, in warehouses, and at outdoor sports events.

Call Boxes:Call boxes are stationary units that can be set up in strategic locations so anyone can access radio communication as needed. For example, call boxes might be set up throughout a large warehouse so workers who don’t carry handheld radios can still communicate with dispatch.

Antennas:Antennas transmit your radio signal and extend your coverage.

Chargers:Battery chargers charge your radio’s batteries. There are single-unit chargers and multi-unit chargers available.

Speaker Microphones:Speaker microphones attach to your collar, allowing for discreet, private, and convenient communication.

Earpieces:Radio earpieces allow you to hear incoming transmissions privately and discreetly.

Surveillance Kits: Surveillance kits generally include a microphone and clear coil earpiece. They’re commonly used by the Secret Service.

Headsets:Radio headsets are headphones that include a microphone. They’re ideal for noisy environments or for applications that require hands-free operation. Many headsets include noise-canceling features.

Carry Cases:Carry cases protect your radio from the elements while making them more easily accessible.

Belt Clips:Belt clips attach your radio to your belt so it’s always ready when you need it.

Contact Us to Learn More

This radio terminology glossary covers the most commonly used terms, but you may still run into some jargon that you don’t understand. If you ever have any questions about radio terminology, products, or services, please feel free to contact our experts. We’ll be happy to guide you every step of the way.

Call 1-888-742-5893, click the live chat button below, or contact us online now.

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