How to Use a Two Way Radio Properly: Things You Must Keep in Mind 

Most of us are familiar with the two-way radio. If you have not seen one in person, chances are you have seen it in the movies. You may have also noticed that people who use it speak in a particular manner, which is not like they would possibly speak on a telephone. This is known as the two-way radio etiquette, and it is imperative to be familiar with it and know when to use it. That is why, in this article, we will talk about how to use a two way radio properly and some essential things about the communication device.

What is a Two-Way Radio: An Overview

A two-way radio is basically a radio that can both receive and transmit a signal, unlike a broadcaster that is capable of receiving signals only. It is more commonly referred to as walkie-talkies or handy-talkies and is available in different kinds of configurations such as hand-held, stationary base and mobile.

In a two-way radio, a user can have a conversation with another user or a group of users who are operating on the same frequency. However, since they typically operate in a half-duplex mode, the user can either talk or listen, but cannot do both at the same time. In addition, there is a PTT (push to talk) button that will switch on the transmitter and when it gets released, the receiver subsequently gets active.

How to Use a Two Way Radio Properly: Protocols and Etiquettes

If you are new to using two-way radios, then you must learn about the protocols beforehand. While your business may be set in its own conventions, certain protocols and etiquettes are universally accepted and followed, which will undoubtedly prove to be very helpful to you.

  • Always be Prepared

We cannot stress enough the fact that before you speak into the radio, you must be well prepared. Unlike a mobile phone where it is possible to interrupt each other or talk over each other, once you have the button pressed down, the other user or users can no longer speak, and you cannot hear them either. That is for the reason that these radios are just a one-at-a-time system of communication.

That means that when you press the button down and then pause to compose your thoughts, what you end up doing is preventing someone else from taking part in the conversation. Additionally, you may also be blocking another user on your particular frequency. Lastly, there will always be a possibility that your battery will run out.

  • Identification

When you use two-way radios, especially in a group, it is imperative that you begin the conversation by first identifying who you are. Not only is that important but it is also considered as good manners. Likewise, if your message is directed to a specific individual, it is polite first to catch the attention of that particular person before delivering your message. For instance, you will typically say, “Echo123, this is Bravo456, OVER”.

In a two-way radio lingo, using the word “Over” at the end of your message indicates that you have finished speaking.

  • Always be Patient

It is always important to note that you will not get a reply instantly from the other end. That is because the transmission is quite slow as compared to when you send a message using a cell phone. So, always be patient and give the user some time to respond back before re-sending the message.

  • Use Clear and Concise Statements

As mentioned earlier, a two-way radio does not function like a mobile phone because only a single person can speak at a time. Hence, you must always keep your transmissions as short as possible, and it should also be direct to the point. What that would do is that it gives the user on the other end the opportunity to first acknowledge your message. Additionally, it also allows the user to request any further clarification from you before you continue speaking.

  • Always Pause before You Speak

When you push down the PTT button, there is a possibility of a slight delay before the radio actually transmits the signal and the message. Thus, if you speak right away, the first few words in your message will get cut off. As such, it is quite ideal to wait for a couple of seconds before you transmit your message across.

  • Use the Correct Lingo

When users use a two-way radio, there are often these words or phrases that stay constant no matter where you are. Some of these words include:

  • Say again: Kindly repeat the message
  • Stand-by: Acknowledging a user’s message, but politely telling you cannot respond right away.
  • Go ahead: Asking the user to continue with their message.
  • Roger: Received and understood the message
  • Negative or Affirmative: No or Yes
  • Out: You are done speaking and the channel is now clear for other users.

These standard words should already be part of your vocabulary when you start conversing using a two-way radio so that you won’t feel left out.

  • Follow the Phonetic Alphabets

There are times when you will need to spell out your messages literally. The common practice is to spell critical words using the NATO’s phonetic alphabet. As a guide, these are:

Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.

It is imperative that you only use these words in your conversation and nothing else. Also, always directly use the phonetic equivalents instead of the letters in your discussions. That is because there are times when people tend to confuse similar-sounding letters like “B” and “V,” “F” and “S” and so on.

Final Words

While there may be several other etiquettes and protocols that each organization follow, the manners on how to use a two way radio properly that we have mentioned in this article are accepted and followed universally. Thus, you will never go wrong with these.

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