A common question that users of walkie-talkies often raise is whether walkie-talkies of different brands and models are compatible with each other.
While this can be possible in the case of many walkie-talkies belonging to different brands and of different models, it is always advisable to purchase handsets from the same brand in order to facilitate hassle-free communication.
An understanding of the compatibility and connections between walkie-talkies of different types can only be comprehended if a person is familiar with how a walkie-talkie function.
In brief, a walkie-talkie establishes communication with other devices within its range using radio signals. These radio signals can only be sent and received by devices if they are on the same radio frequency.
Thus, theoretically, a basic walkie-talkie can communicate with other similar devices within its range, provided that they are tuned into the same radio frequency.
However, considering the complexity of the walkie-talkies used today, this can only be practically applied if a user has considerable knowledge about the same.
Are Different Types of Walkie-Talkies Compatible?
As mentioned earlier, walkie-talkies of different brands and models can communicate. However, this depends on a variety of factors.
The most important point to keep in mind is that walkie-talkies can only communicate when they are functioning on the same radio frequency when within range.
Establishing Connection Between Walkie-Talkies Meant for General Use
The walkie-talkies available to the general public usually function within the Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). These are the radio services available to the general public for access.
Both of these radio services are within the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) range as they function at the level of 460 MHz. They consist of a variety of radio channels that can be accessed by the general public.
An important point of difference between FRS and GMRS is that while the channels within FRS are available to all walkie-talkie users within the general public, the channels within GMRS are available only to those walkie-talkie users within the general public who have been licensed.
This licensing is granted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States, subject to certain eligibility criteria and standards stipulated by them.
Hence, while trying to connect walkie-talkies of two different brands, it is important to ensure that the devices can function within the same radio service.
This is because due to the slight restrictiveness in the access of GMRS, there are some handsets which can function both within the FRS and the GMRS, while others can only function within the FRS.
Hence, it is important to determine if two devices can only be connected through a channel of the FRS or the GMRS, or both.
Establishing Communication Between Walkie-Talkies Meant for Corporate Communication
Apart from these two radio services, there are also radio frequency bands dedicated to more confidential uses. These include radio channels which function at a frequency range of 450 MHz to 470 MHz.
This is the business band and is used strictly for corporate communication. Apart from this, there are also channels at other frequencies dedicated for use by professionals like firefighters, the cops etc.,
In the case of walkie-talkies meant for business communication, it is much more difficult, if at all possible, to connect devices that are from different brands and of different models.
This is because there is a lot more diversity in walkie-talkies which are used for business communication purposes. These radios can function at Ultra High Frequency (UHF) level as well as Very High Frequency (VHF) level.
It makes it more difficult for these radios to have the option to tune into channels at the same frequency. Even if two walkie-talkies are at the same level of frequency range, there is a high chance that they have been programmed with custom frequencies.
This would mean that devices would not be able to communicate with each other despite functioning on the same level of frequency.
Can Walkie-Talkies Establish Communication with Cb Radios?
Cb Radios, or Citizen Band Radios, are land mobile radio systems used for communication over short distances.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for regulating their use and citizens of all ages can use them provided that they are licensed based on the FCC’s rules and regulations.
Most walkie-talkies cannot establish communication with Citizen Band Radios. This is because there are separate channels and bands dedicated for usage by the two types of radio devices.
However, recent years have seen a surge in the availability of hybrid radio devices which can function across a very large range of frequencies.
This allows selected walkie-talkies which have had this feature built into them be able to establish communication with Cb Radios.
One such example of a walkie-talkie model which can achieve this kind of communication is the Midland MicroMobile MXT400. It is a fairly advanced GMRS two-way radio that can access 15 GMRS radio channels and 8 Repeater channels.
Connecting Walkie-Talkies of Different Brands, Models and Usage
Connecting walkie-talkies meant for use by the general public is a fairly easy task. The following are the steps that a walkie-talkie user must follow in order to achieve this:
- Set the two devices to the same frequency. In most cases, the channel number and the serial number would be the same in both devices. However, at times, this may vary across walkie-talkies of different brands.
- This variation can also be present across the two different radio services since the two radio services available to the American public have certain overlapping frequencies and channels. Hence, one must always ensure that the walkie-talkies are functioning on the same frequency, and not just on the same radio channel.
- Ideally, the devices should be able to communicate after the completion of the first step itself. However, there is high chance that communication might still be getting hampered by CTCSS and DCS.
- CTSS stands for Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System. It is an analog system that helps in reducing disturbances while communicating through walkie-talkies. This is done by adding a continuous tone below 300 Hz to the communication line. It blocks out the voices of other walkie-talkie users who might be communicating on the same frequency within range. Thus, it might sometimes be necessary to disable the CTSS function of the two vastly different handsets being connected. This is because if the devices have different tones of CTSS, then the communication will be inhibited by the revising device.
- DCS stands for Digital Coded-System. It is quite similar in its purpose to CTSS, except that it does not make use of a continuous tone for ensuring disruption-free communication. Instead, it uses digital data or coded words to achieve this purpose. Very similarly to the case of CTSS, it is essential to disable the DCS function when establishing communication between handsets from different brands or of different models. This is because this functionality might be blocking communication despite being on the same radio frequency.
How Many Walkie-Talkies Can Be Connected at the Same Time?
A connection can be established between any number of walkie-talkies at the same time so long as they are working on the same radio frequency within range of each other and no privacy codes like CTSS and DCS are enabled.
However, at a given point of time, only two walkie-talkies can communicate with each other. This is because walkie-talkies are half-duplex radio devices, meaning that they cannot perform the transmitting and receiving function simultaneously.
As a result, users have to talk one-by-one while using walkie-talkies.
While there are measures which can be taken to establish communication between walkie-talkies from different brands and of different models, it is not advisable to do so.
This is because establishing communication across vastly different handsets would require unnecessary technical interference in the default settings of the walkie-talkie.
Moreover, it is just more practical to purchase walkie-talkies that belong to the same brand. Apart from the obvious advantage of bulk purchase, this also allows ease of usage.
Since users are already familiar with the functioning and maintenance of the particular brands’ radio device, they would find it easier to use them.