Walkie talkies targeted at consumers use a standard set of frequencies, either FRS, GMRS or a combination of both. All radios that support FRS and/or GMRS use the same frequencies, so they are compatible with each other. If you use the same channel and privacy code on your devices you should be able to communicate with each other very easily.
Do walkie talkies need to be the same brand?
In almost all cases, we would maintain that they do not need to be the same brand. That said, there is an advantage to buying the same brand both in saving money from a bulk buy, and also from being familiar with the set-up, maintenance, and use of each brand’s walkie talkies. For example, while you will be able to communicate across a Motorola and Cobra brand walkie talkie, it might be easier for you to buy only Motorola or only Cobra walkie talkies because then you keep consistent expectations for how to change channels, use privacy codes, and more.
How can I get my walkie talkies to work together? Can you connect two different walkie talkies?
You should first ensure that all your walkie talkies are on the same channel. This can be tuned on each walkie talkie individually, and this should allow you to communicate across different models and brands of walkie talkies. Sometimes different features like a DCS or a CCTCSS can be activated which might block communication between your different walkies. If you run into issues, you can go ahead and turn those features off. Also make sure you are aligned across frequency and channel – sometimes different walkie talkies list the channels differently. So yes, you can connect two different walkie talkies fairly easily.
Can two way radios / walkie talkies communicate with CB radios? Can I connect a walkie talkie with a CB radio?
FRS/GMRS consumer walkie talkies operate on different bands from CB radios. You cannot use most consumer walkie talkies to communicate or talk with a CB radio. That said, there are a growing number of hybrid devices on the market which will allow you to have a unique mix of capabilities and the opportunity to communicate across several mediums. You can find our full review of one such device here: Midland MicroMobile MXT400 Review.
Can 2 different brand walkie-talkies work together if they are on the same channel?
Yes, providing they are using the same modulation type(FM typically), the same deviation (typically 5Khz), and the same Squelch type. This is where proprietary ‘stuff’ can make comms difficult or impossible. Consider plain old Carrier Squelch. Easy-peasy the signal (FM) at a typical frequency reaches a set threshold on the receiver and the Squelch opens and you hear the transmission. Next for about 30 years we’ve had CTCSS, PL or Tone Squelch, all synonymous and used by almost everyone in the business. Set to encode, decode, enxide-decode, and as long as your tones match your TX/RX, you are good to go. Next we come to DCS, Digital-Coded-Squelch, easy if you pick the same coding, and straight forward, but can be set/used in ‘reverse DCS’, need to be careful with programming, as you can get into trouble there. Then there’s 3 tone and five tone coded Squelch which is more proprietary & can be incompatible between different radio manufactures. There’s also scrambling which is highly proprietary & will not work between different brands.
As stated before, for business radios it is not so simple
For a start, business radios can use different types of frequencies, for example, VHF, UHF or the 800/900 MHz range. So the first thing you have to check if you want to use business radios of a different model and/or brand with each other is if they operate on the same type of frequency. If not, you will not be able to use them together.
Furthermore, business radios also often support the programming of custom frequencies. So even in the case your radios use the same frequency type, it is still possible that you cannot communicate with these radios because they have different frequencies programmed.
So if you want to buy a new business radio to use with radios you already own but you are not sure if they will work together you should really ask some advice from an expert to prevent surprises.