More About PMR446 Radios

What is PMR446?

The Pan European PMR446 service is a licence exempt service for short range UHFradio communication “two-way radios”, sometimes referred to as “walkie talkies”.  It has created a huge market for low cost, low power communications without the hassle of in-country licensing and a wealth of manufacturers making PMR446 radios, costing from literally a few £ to over £200, and catering for a wide range of users.

Analogue PMR446 is useable across UK and the rest of the European Union.  The newer Digital services are “non harmonised” and as a result are only best useable in UK for equipment purchased in UK.

The Regulations for PMR446 Equipment
All PMR446 radios must comply to regulation (Radio Equipment Directive) 2014/53/EU, and the UK Interface requirement IR2030.  In a nutshell:

PMR446 walkie talkies are designed to operate over a small area, (don't believe some claims of “8 km range”) as the range is determined by a number of factors including the topography of operation and what's in the way.  

As a rough guide all radios will work well in an open environment but range will be more limited when there are obstacles. Multi storey buildings or thick concrete/steel walls will cut down a radios signal so its always a good idea to test the coverage before committing to one particular type of equipment.
PMR446 radios transmit at much lower power (500mW) than licensed radios (4 or 5W), so the range is generally greater with a licensed unit. It is worth noting that range is exponential to power, so a 5W transmitter will not actually be 10 times the range of a 500mW transmitter.  You would need to increase the Transmit power to over 15W before any significant range is experienced.  Power does however have an impact on penetration or propagation within buildings.  This is why larger sites or multi-story sites would always adopt higher powered Licensed radios rather than PMR446 radios.  By the same consequence, Fleet users (vehicles with radios) have typically 25W power to give range.
PMR446 Repeaters are technically not allowed under UK and EU regulations as this would normally entail some form of base unit and cross channel or cross band operation.  As PMR446 radios operate on Simplex (ie transmit and receive on the same frequency) one cannot use a conventional form of repeater which would "listen" on one channel and "transmit" on another.
Theoretically, although we do not know of any equipment available, a "Simplex" repeater arrangement could be made, using a (unmodified is key) PMR446 portable radio, which plugs into a Simplex Repeater box and to another (unmodified) PMR446 radio or sometimes even the same radio.  The Simplex box acts literally like a tape recorder (albeit a digital version) which records approx 10 seconds and then re-broadcasts it.
Due to an anomaly in the regulations in UK, whereas PMR446 radios according to RTTE specifications should have a fixed antenna, some PMR446 radios do not and have a removeable antenna.  This is more prevalent with Digital PMR446 radios.

Be careful what you purchase online as a PMR446 radios -  Some are low cost and illegal imports which do not comply to the regulations under EU and UK law.  Red Radio do not supply  such radios or support them in any form as these products seem to be imported by unregistered and unauthorised sources and do not meet the strict  RTTE, CE and RED directives in place for two-way radios. 
Any user may be fined or even imprisoned for using an illegal radio, even PMR446 so please take care and purchase wisely.  Be Cautious:  We will always advise if any product you have found online is legit.

Some PMR446 radios have better range due to better antennas on the radio. In general the ones which have “whips”, will give better range. Note: PMR446 is a shared service across EU, and there are many radios using this service so interference may be heard on occasion. This can be overcome using radios with “CTCSS” or even better, ones with “DCS”. 

Digital PMR446 radios and Digital dPMR446 radios, although more expensive than their analogue counterparts, have better range and battery life.  If in doubt please do not hesitate to contact us for free and no obligation advice.
Red Radio supply PMR446 radios from all the leading manufacturers.

FRS radios are a USA equivalent of the Pan-European PMR446 radios.  As the frequencies for FRS are different to PMR446 Frequencies and the power can be different with FRS Radios they are NOT LEGAL in UK.