One of the decisions you must make before your next radio purchase is the choice between VHF and UHF. Understanding the difference will help you make the best choice for your agency. If you are not familiar with VHF and UHF, the following short primer will help.
VHF (Very High Frequency) radio use a pretty broad range of the electromagnetic spectrum, from 30 MHz to 300 MHz. The broader range means a larger broadcast range. VHF also transmits over a greater distance than UHF. Even though VHF enjoys a larger range, fewer channels are available. This can lead to interference from other nearby two-way radios and congestion as well. VHF radios are great for outdoor applications, and across large areas (like a ski resort or golf course). In urban areas, with tall buildings, VHF radios typically suffer signal degradation. VHF radio is favored by people in the recreation industry.
UHF (Ultra-High Frequency) radios have a shorter range than VHF, but make up for the reduced range with a much wider frequency spectrum. The wider frequency spectrum allows more channels, providing less interference compared to VHF. However, because of the use of the higher frequency range, battery power is drained at a higher rate. UHF signals are much better at penetrating barriers (wood, concrete, steel), so this type of radio is ideal for the urban setting. Typical users are from the manufacturing, education, hospitality, and healthcare industries. Additionally, UHF is the choice for organizations requiring two-way radio communications in both interior and exterior settings.
Keeping the above in mind will help you make the best choice during your next radio purchase. There are pros and cons for each type of radio, and basic rule of thumb is that VHF is better outdoors and in larger areas, while UHF is better for short range and indoor applications.