Two Way Radios ( Walkie-Talkies)
Two way radio is generally referring to radio equipment that works independently of public networks to achieve voice communication.
Effective use of two-way radio ideally needs an understanding of how radio signals travel which in itself leads to the ability to achieve maximum range. One important aspect of radio communication is to remember that only one person can speak at a time, with all others listening. This requires a certain level of discipline.
Three types of two way radio equipment are easily available to Scouts:
License Exempt 446 MHz walkie-talkies
These are readily available in retail shops and do not require a license to operate. They are low power UHF two way radios with a range of up to 3 km in open countryside. Range within the urban environment is considerably shorter, as is the range in wooded areas. The radio channels are shared with other public users and due regard for safeguarding must be considered. External aerials / antennas are not allowed. More information at:
Scout Association Private Mobile Radio
The Scout Association holds a Private Mobile Radio license and groups can apply for a sub-license. There are more conditions associated with this license although the equipment has a greater range. Mobile installations in vehicles are permitted. Professional equipment is required which is more expensive. Radio channels are available on VHF and UHF.
More information is available at: https://members.scouts.org.uk/fs120503
Citizens Band (CB)
CB equipment is also available in a few retail shops. It potentially has greater range although the aerials / antennas are much larger. It can be good for vehicles and fixed stations which are allowed. Communication quality is not as good as equipment operating on VHF and UHF More information at: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/spectrum/information/licence-exempt-radio-use/licence-exempt-devices/citizens-band-radio/
In addition to the above, those holding an amateur radio license can use a large range of handportable / walkie-talkie, vehicle fitted and fixed installation equipment in a number of VHF and UHF amateur radio bands. Amateur radio licenses are available at a number of qualification levels. The Foundation License is the entry level which may be of interest to the Scout and more senior sections. More information at: http://rsgb.org/main/clubs-training/for-students/foundation/
There is equipment in some retails outlets that either requires a license or is not legal to use in the United Kingdom. It is strongly recommended that you obtain advice before purchasing / using equipment to ensure that it is suitable and legal to use. The penalties for transmitting using the wrong type of equipment are significant if Ofcom choice to prosecute. In addition, you could be cause interference to the emergency services communications systems without even knowing it.
Further information at: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/spectrum/interference-enforcement/spectrum-offences
Internal note: links last checked / updated December 2017