Understanding Licence-Free PMR446 Handheld Radios

Understanding Licence-Free PMR446 Handheld Radios

Handheld radios are a staple for quick and efficient communication across various sectors. Among the different types available, licence-free PMR446 radios stand out for their ease of use and accessibility. This article aims to shed light on these devices, explaining their benefits and comparing them with licenced radios to help you make an informed decision.

What Are PMR446 Handheld Radios?

PMR446 (Private Mobile Radio, 446 MHz) radios are licence-free two-way communication devices commonly used in Europe. These radios operate on eight channels in the 446 MHz UHF band, offering a practical solution for short-range communication. Because they are licence-free, anyone can use them without the need to apply for or pay for a licence, making them particularly popular for personal, recreational, and light commercial use.

Benefits of PMR446 Radios

  1. Ease of Use: With no licensing requirements, PMR446 radios are straightforward to set up and use. This makes them accessible to everyone, from families on a camping trip to event organisers needing quick communication.

  2. Cost-Effective: Being licence-free eliminates the additional costs associated with obtaining and maintaining a radio licence. This makes them an affordable option for casual users and small businesses.

  3. Portability: These radios are typically compact and lightweight, designed for ease of carrying and handling.

  4. Immediate Availability: With no need for licensing, users can purchase and start using PMR446 radios immediately, making them ideal for spontaneous or short-term communication needs.

However, it’s important to note that PMR446 radios come with limitations, primarily their security and range.

Limitations of PMR446 Radios

  1. Limited Range: PMR446 radios typically offer a range of up to a mile, which can be further reduced by obstacles like buildings and terrain.

  2. Unsecure Communication: Being licence-free, these radios do not offer secure communication channels, making them unsuitable for sensitive or confidential information.

  3. Interference: With many users on the same frequencies, there is a higher chance of interference and congestion, especially in urban areas.


Motorola T82 Extreme

  • Type: Licence-free PMR446
  • Range: Between half a mile to a mile (in optimal conditions)
  • Channels: 8 PMR446 channels
  • Features: Weatherproof (IPx4), LED torch, emergency button, group call function
  • Battery Life: Approximately 16 hours
  • Use Case: Ideal for outdoor activities, family use, and small events

Hytera BD615

  • Type: Licenced DMR (Digital Mobile Radio)
  • Range: Up to 3 miles (dependent on terrain and environment)
  • Channels: 48 (digital and analogue)
  • Features: Rugged (IP66 and MIL-STD-810G), superior audio quality, encryption for secure communication, longer battery life (up to 22 hours)
  • Battery Life: Approximately 22 hours
  • Use Case: Suitable for business, construction sites, security, and other professional applications where secure and reliable communication is critical

Key Differences

  1. Licensing: The Motorola T82 Extreme does not require a licence, making it more accessible for personal use. In contrast, the Hytera BD615 requires a licence, which involves additional cost and regulatory compliance but offers more secure and robust communication. Licencing is something we can assist with at LightComm.

  2. Range and Reliability: Licenced radios like the BD615 typically provide more consistent performance in challenging environments due to higher power outputs and advanced technology.

  3. Security: The BD615’s encryption capabilities ensure secure communication, which is essential for professional and sensitive applications. The T82 Extreme, being licence-free, lacks this feature, making it unsuitable for confidential communications.

  4. Durability and Features: Licenced radios often come with enhanced durability and advanced features suitable for demanding environments. The BD615’s rugged design and extended battery life make it a reliable choice for industrial use.


Choosing between a licence-free and a licenced radio depends on your specific needs. For casual, short-term, or recreational use, PMR446 radios like the Motorola T82 Extreme are an excellent choice due to their ease of use and cost-effectiveness. However, for professional, long-term, or security-sensitive applications, licenced radios like the Hytera BD615 offer the enhanced performance, reliability, and security necessary to meet these demands.

By understanding the capabilities and limitations of each type of radio, users can select the best tool to ensure effective communication in any situation.