What's the Difference Between Conventional and Trunked Radio Systems?

Posted by Lisa MacGillivray

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

When you are considering implementing two-way radios for your business or organization, it is all about finding the right fit. Not only do you need the right radios and accessories, but the communications provider that you work with should help find the right network for you: conventional or trunked.  

Note: it is important to connect with a trusted radio dealer to determine which radio network is best for you, but in the meantime, you may be wondering, "What's the difference between conventional and trunked radio systems?" 

Conventional Systems  

Conventional radio systems are typically the simpler of the two. In these radio networks, the system has dedicated channels to specific groups/users, and the user manually selects the channels they want. For example, channel 1 may be dedicated to field officers while channel 2 may be sergeants, and the user is responsible for selecting those.  

As no control channels are needed, users are free to use any of the channels available to them, assuming no one else is currently using the channel. This means that a user would need to finish their call on channel 2 before another user could place a call on channel 2. Therefore, the amount of users who can successfully use this network is directly related to the amount of channels available.  

This means that conventional systems are, most commonly, best suited for businesses/organizations with a smaller user group. In general, these systems have the capabilities to support roughly 70 users per channel, so they are ideal for smaller organizations who have a firm understanding of how their groups communicate.  

Trunked Systems  

Trunked radio networks are more sophisticated systems, as they rely on repeater technology. Here's how it works:  

  1. User wants to communicate with another user/group 
  2. When they place the call, they are rerouted to the first free channel, courtesy of the repeater 

This can save users a lot of time and frustration as they don't need to worry about turning a knob to find an open channel, or having to wait to communicate over a specific channel. Rather, they can simply use the push-to-talk button and be quickly connected over the first available channel.  

Trunked systems are the ideal solution for organizations with a large amount of users/groups. 

The Intersection Example 


A great way to illustrate the differences between these networks is to consider two traffic intersections.  

The first intersection is "conventional" and uses your average stoplight system. When a driver (user) comes to the intersection and the light is green, (open channel) they are free to proceed. If the light is red (channel in use) they have to wait until the light turns green to move forward.  

The second intersection, the "trunked" system, is a roundabout. When a driver enters this intersection, they simply merge in during the first possible opening in traffic, thus making their trip more efficient.  

Topics: Two Way Radios, Radio System, Technology, Digital Two-Way Radios