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What Is a Radio Communication System?

Geisha A. Legazpi
Geisha A. Legazpi

A radio communication system is a collection of fixed and mobile radio equipment designed to serve an organization by allowing specific communication modes like one-to-many and one-to-one. The common radio communication system uses one or more fixed sites, which have the ability to repeat and relay messages to nearby and remote sites as needed. The two-way radio allows people to exchange messages, whereas radio broadcasting is a transfer of information in one direction only. Many frequency bands and modulation types are used for the radio communication system. Frequencies from 0.3 megahertz (MHz) to about 3,000 MHz assigned into the so-called high frequency, very high frequency, and ultrahigh frequency for various specific needs are extra long range, all-terrain, and urban structure signal penetration.

The modern two-way radio system (2WRS), which is an alternative name for radio communication system, typically has three user modes. A portable radio user has a handheld transmitter-receiver, or transceiver, device that runs on batteries and is easy enough to take almost anywhere, a mobile radio user usually has a transceiver mounted inside a vehicle, and a fixed or base radio user sits at a station with stationary radio equipment. The transportable radio may be carried and operated during stationary times. Radio electronics has improved a lot since the early 1900s, as there have been breakthroughs in battery technology that increase the talk time for portable radios. Some technologies even allow for radio transmit power auto-adjustment to match the user locations relative to the fixed stations.

A handheld transceiver can be part of a radio communication system.
A handheld transceiver can be part of a radio communication system.

Radio communication system users are able to communicate to all members of a group at the same time. In practice, each group in an organization is granted an actual channel or a virtual private channel where the group can communicate without interfering with communications from other groups. This feature is made possible by channel selectivity of radio receivers used in conventional analog communications.

In conventional analog communications, channels are allocated to different groups, and when there are too many groups, a technique called trunking allows radio groups to have a virtual channel as needed. In this mode, the trunking radio communication system requires a form of data communication-capable subscriber units called trunked radios. Instead of using a channel exclusively, a trunked radio will automatically request a channel without the user knowing it. All the user knows is that there is access to a specific virtual channel or talk group. A go-ahead beep informs the user that a virtual channel has been established and that the user may already speak.

Discussion Comments


@everetra - I think nowadays we take so many radio communications for granted. I remember when I was a kid, I got this electronic hobby kit which I used to build a crystal radio.

This required absolutely no power source; it used a crystal detector and long wire to pick up radio signals. The signals are not amplified so obviously the sound is very weak, but still it works.

I loved listening to my crystal radio when I was a kid. It opened my eyes up to the wonders of radio communications.


@miriam98 - Some of my friends like to listen to shortwave radio. They buy these small radios that let them listen to worldwide broadcasts like BBC World News and other programs heard around the world.

I suppose it’s a neat way to stay tapped into what’s going on around the world. It gives you an interesting cultural perspective.

But really you don’t have to listen to shortwave radio if you like listening to distant stations. You can use your portable AM radio and on a clear night pick up signals of distant radio stations (not overseas but in other states), a technique called “DX’ing” the AM band.


@David09 - Yeah, most of those units are used mainly in industrial settings. I suppose you can get walkie talkies for short range communications if you don’t have a cell phone handy. I’ve used these radios to keep track of the kids when we’re in a park or even in a theme park if (God forbid) the kids start to wander off from where we can see them.

But I do agree with you that cell phones have pretty much become the all-in-one communication devices. Other than industrial uses the only other people I know who use the kinds of radio communications described here are hobbyists, doing thing like HAM radio operations and stuff like that.


I volunteer at our church in the children’s ministry and we have quite a large auditorium with volunteers scattered here and there doing different things. We all have two way radios to facilitate communication and so we can get people on the scene quickly if there’s an emergency with the kids.

The portable radios are a bit clunky, I have to admit, and we are all tuned to one channel. I have an earpiece that attaches to the unit and a plug in microphone as well.

I’ve never had to use it so far but it’s good to know that we can keep in touch with each other and just listen in to what's going on. Honestly, apart from this one environment, I almost never use handheld radios, preferring to make all my communications on a cell phone, even for people within short range.

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    • A handheld transceiver can be part of a radio communication system.
      By: sallydexter
      A handheld transceiver can be part of a radio communication system.