So, what’s the difference between digital radios and analogue radios? And why should you choose digital?

Many customers often come to use with a requirement for two-way radios, but they are unsure of which type of radio would be most suitable. We are often asked what the difference is between a digital radios and analogue radios – this blog post will get you up-to-speed on both technologies and will also provide you with the pros and cons of each.

If you’re not knowledgeable on the OFCOM licensing implications of these technologies, then not to worry! We will explain this in detail and equip you with accurate knowledge, as some of our customers have been misinformed by others.

Why should you choose digital?

Digital radio has really revolutionised the communications industry and notably improved the way we communicate – in addition to improving a number of aspects of the user’s experience.

So, what are the benefits of using digital radios, rather than its predecessor?

We’ve outlined these below for you:

  • Clearer signal – If you’ve used analogue radios, I’m sure you have experienced background noise. When using digital radios, there is no background noise, so if/when the signal weakens, the voice clarity will remain the same. If the signal was fully lost for any reason, the digital radio stops.
  • Better coverage – Digital technology actually increases coverage. In some cases, by up to 20% in comparison to analogue radios. The reason for this is because the unwanted background noise is filtered out. Digital radios are actually able to correct any errors in weaker transmissions, this therefore fills in the gaps.
  • More secure transmissions – They are more secure because it is much more difficult to listen in to digital transmissions than an analogue transmission. You may not be aware, but high tier digital radios actually offer encryption as standard. Lower tier digital radios do still offer enhanced privacy options as standard.
  • Robust hardware – Manufacturers invest a lot of time, effort and money into producing the highest quality radios, there for the quality and the reliability of the equipment is excellent.
  • Improved functionality – Digital radios typically offer more functionality! This can include features such as GPS tracking, caller ID and higher IP ratings where radios can be exposed to more hostile conditions such as water, mud and dust.
  • More variety – Major manufacturers, such as Motorola and Hytera, all offer a wide range of hand portable, in vehicle, in office and transmitter products. The type of radio you need will vary depending on its use, location and required features. We can help you in choosing the right radio for your needs, so please contact us if you need any assistance.
  • Quick and simple migration– Most digital radios can actually operate in analogue mode; this makes it very simple and easy to migrate from analogue to digital.

We’ve discussed the benefits of digital radios, but what are the problems with analogue radios?

If you currently use analogue radios, then you may have experienced these first-hand. Our analogue customers have experience problems such as busy lockout (due to too much traffic), poor sound quality, black spots (no coverage), issues with battery life or handsets breaking.

Do you have any unanswered questions about analogue radios? You may find the answer below:

  • Are analogue radios being made obsolete?– Not exactly. Roughly 95% of all radios manufactured are now digital, but the vast majority can still operate in analogue mode. This means they will still be able to communicate with your existing radios. The world is moving ever closer to a fully digital world and analogue will eventually be phased out.
  • Will my radios stop working when OFCOM switch off the analogue channel? – This is not true! Many customers have told us they’ve heard that analogue radios will stop working when the analogue channels are switched off. However, your analogue radios will in fact continue to work for as longs as you wish to use them.
  • Do I need to change my OFCOM license if I upgrade to digital? Nope! You do not need to change your OFCOM license when upgrading to digital. The reason for this is because analogue and digital radios can operate on the same frequencies.
  • Do I need to change my building and vehicle antennas when I upgrade to digital?  – The answer is no. You can continue to use the exact same antennas for digital and analogue radios.
  • Can I continue to buy analogue radios? – Options are more limited, but yes you definitely can still buy analogue radios. If you have a specific requirement for analogue radios, please contact a member of our team.
  • Are analogue radios less expensive? – Yes, most analogue radios are less expensive and there are lots of preowned analogue radios available on the market. However, digital radios can also be a very cost-effective solution, depending on your requirements. Because the attention is diverted to advancing technology in digital radios, the only analogue radios that are still available for purchase, or still being produced, are the very basic radios and therefore tend to be cheaper.

The question of “what’s the difference between digital and analogue radios?” is often asked by our customers, so we hope this article has given you further insight and clarity on this. We listed a number of pros and cons to help you in making the most informed decision.

Our preference is digital technology, as outlined in our pros listed above, but this is obviously budget permitting. We would advise customers to opt for the digital radios over the analogue radios, but if you’re still not sure we would love to discuss this with you. That way we can make sure you have the most suited radio for your exact requirements.

We’ve found that the huge benefits of using digital radios does far outweigh the increase in cost, mainly because the warranties are typically longer, the equipment is much better quality and the user experience is dramatically improved.

Stay safe and stay connected.