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Railroad/Railfan Monitoring Forum This is the place to discuss monitoring railroad communications.

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Old 11-17-2013, 12:22 AM
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Hi,

Why are the railroads switching to NXDN? What's wrong with tried and true analog technology? Is NXDN proprietary? Why as Americans and taxpayers allowing are public servants to use encryption? What are they hiding?

Mike
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Old 11-17-2013, 1:10 AM
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NXDN is not necessarily proprietary as their is an association with various vendors that are in the market. It does have the option to be encrypted, however that will very among the railroads and who use what for what operations. IE-changing of cars, police operations, passenger operations etc. If you have not noticed all the major railroad companies are changing out equipment and licenses to reflect nxdn. It better efficient of the spectrum usage of the allocated frequencies. Squeezes in more users in the allotted bandwidth. Clarity and range very on locations and repeaters etc that are in play. Amtrak use icom ic-f3161dt's or the newer ones that are a tad bit more feature rich. BNSF a bigger player with Amtrak have similar radios in play. The two major players in the big companies are icom and kenwood. With clean cab installs by ritron for small companies. Were not quite yet their for full system deployment of nxdn, but its is coming if your a rail fan.
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Old 11-17-2013, 5:37 PM
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Originally Posted by ion_op View Post
Hi,

Why are the railroads switching to NXDN? What's wrong with tried and true analog technology? Is NXDN proprietary? Why as Americans and taxpayers allowing are public servants to use encryption? What are they hiding?

Mike
Well, for one, railroads are for the most part private enterprises that have no obligation to provide scanner listeners entertainment. They are in the business (and business is the operative word) of providing transportation for people and property. If they wanted to encrypt their communications they are perfectly within their rights to do so. They are not "Public Servants" in the same sense that police and fire are, they are for the most part Common Carriers. Big difference.

NXDN provides a way for them to fulfill a requirement to use a smaller slice of the spectrum. While analog can work fine on the current 12.5 Khz channels it cannot on the future 6.25 mandate. Thus digital was chosen, and the various railroad companies agreed to use NXDN.

NXDN is proprietary, just as P25 and TRBO are. The right to use it must be purchased by the manufacturers. Kenwood, Icom and others have done so for NXDN and are producing radios with it. The railroads will be switching over to it eventually according to current plans. When they start actually using it in a major way is anyone's guess.

So far there have been no overt plans to use encryption that I am aware of by the railroad companies, but if they do there is nothing we can do to prevent it.

While a NXDN scanner is not yet available, I wouldn't be surprised if one is made available at some time in the future, especially if railroads switch over to NXDN in an unencrypted mode. Of course the scanner manufacturers will need to purchase the codecs from their owners, just as they do now for P25.

The difference between the 3 common digital protocols is that P25 is for sale to any manufacturer that wants to pony up the money to buy the rights. NXDN and TRBO are only for sale to those that the owners want to sell it to. If Uniden wants to build a scanner capable of NXDN, TRBO or both they can only do so if the owners of the tech allows them, no matter how much money they throw at them.
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Old 11-19-2013, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by ion_op View Post
Hi,

Why are the railroads switching to NXDN? What's wrong with tried and true analog technology? Is NXDN proprietary? Why as Americans and taxpayers allowing are public servants to use encryption? What are they hiding?

Mike

Why are the railroads switching to NXDN?

Because, railroads are channelized, and there is limited real estate in some of the more conjested areas. In order to squeeze more channels into a smaller area, analog will not be feasible much longer thus the need for digital is on the horizon.

Is NXDN Proprietary?

Not quite... it is an open proprietary protocal.

Why as Americans and taxpayers allowing are public servants to use encryption?

That question is beyond the scope of this thread / forum, and encryption is no longer discussed in the forums here because the horse is dead.

Last edited by burner50; 11-19-2013 at 11:26 AM..
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Old 11-19-2013, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by RADIOGUY2002 View Post
NXDN is not necessarily proprietary as their is an association with various vendors that are in the market. It does have the option to be encrypted, however that will very among the railroads and who use what for what operations.
The American Association of Railroads has declared that encryption is NOT to be used for operations on railroads. So, it isn't up to the railroads. Railroad police primarily use their radios to talk to train dispatchers and train crews, so I don't see much, if any, encryption for them, and all other departments in the RR Band need to be able to communicate openly.
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Old 11-19-2013, 11:34 AM
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Well, for one, railroads are for the most part private enterprises that have no obligation to provide scanner listeners entertainment. They are in the business (and business is the operative word) of providing transportation for people and property. If they wanted to encrypt their communications they are perfectly within their rights to do so. They are not "Public Servants" in the same sense that police and fire are, they are for the most part Common Carriers. Big difference.
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So far there have been no overt plans to use encryption that I am aware of by the railroad companies, but if they do there is nothing we can do to prevent it.
There is entirely too much coordination between different companies for any attempt at encryption to work.
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Old 11-20-2013, 2:10 PM
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You're right about the private firms but what about Amtrak and NJ Transit? Will they be switching to NXDN?

Mike
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Old 11-20-2013, 5:14 PM
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You're right about the private firms but what about Amtrak and NJ Transit? Will they be switching to NXDN?

Mike

Most likely when the rest of the railroads do so. Even they have to coordinate multitudes of operations with other railroads.
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Old 11-20-2013, 5:51 PM
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Are there any railroads outside New England that actually use NXDN? Not just licensed, but actually using? The New Hampshire Northcoast here in NH does full time, they are the only company in the US that I'm aware of.
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:40 AM
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NXDN is proprietary, just as P25 and TRBO are. The right to use it must be purchased by the manufacturers. Kenwood, Icom and others have done so for NXDN and are producing radios with it. The railroads will be switching over to it eventually according to current plans. When they start actually using it in a major way is anyone's guess.

The difference between the 3 common digital protocols is that P25 is for sale to any manufacturer that wants to pony up the money to buy the rights. NXDN and TRBO are only for sale to those that the owners want to sell it to. If Uniden wants to build a scanner capable of NXDN, TRBO or both they can only do so if the owners of the tech allows them, no matter how much money they throw at them.
Not TRUE!

NXDN (Nexedge) is an Open PROPRIETARY Digital mode developed by Kenwood. Icom also makes NXDN products called iDAS. There are compatable on digital conventional, but do not work together when trunked. Relm also makes a NXDN radio. But thats all the vendors I believe at this time.

P25 is an open standard aka: non proprietary and nearly ALL manufactures make equipment for it.

TRBO is also an open standard called DMR aka: non proprietary, and there are many manfactures that support it, including kenwood.

TRBO, NXDN and P25 Phase 2 all use the same vocoder AMBE Developed by DVSI. P25 Phase1 used IMBE but newer radio's supporting P25 Phase2and1 use AMBE. And is backwards compatable with Phase1 IMBE radio's.

Last edited by hitechRadio; 11-21-2013 at 11:53 AM..
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:54 AM
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NXDN (Nexedge) is an Open PROPRIETARY Digital mode developed by Kenwood. Icom also makes NXDN products called iDAS. There are compatable on digital conventional, but do not work together when trunked. I believe Relm also makes a NXDN radio.

P25 is an open standard aka: non proprietary and most manufactures make equipment for it.

TRBO is also an open standard called DMR aka: non proprietary, and there are many manfactures that support it also.

TRBO, NXDN and P25 Phase 2 all use the same vocoder AMBE Developed by DVSI. P25 Phase1 used IMBE but newer radio's supporting P25 Phase2and1 use AMBE. And is backwards compatable with Phase1 IMBE radio's.

FYI, Kenwood makes equipment for P25 and suprisingly DMR, but there DMR product is not sold in this country as of right know.
DMR, P25, and NXDN are all published standards.

With TRBO, it is DMR compliant conventionally, although Motorola has added proprietary features. Capacity plus and Site Connect trunking implementation by Motorola are not DMR compliant, nor is Motorola voice privacy implementation in TRBO.

Now with NXDN, Idas and Nextedge trunking implementations are not compatible with each other's subscriber equipment. Idas and Nextedge subscriber equipment are only compatible at the very narrow 6.25KHz band width setting.


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Old 11-21-2013, 8:50 PM
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DMR, P25, and NXDN are all published standards.

With TRBO, it is DMR compliant conventionally, although Motorola has added proprietary features. Capacity plus and Site Connect trunking implementation by Motorola are not DMR compliant, nor is Motorola voice privacy implementation in TRBO.

Now with NXDN, Idas and Nextedge trunking implementations are not compatible with each other's subscriber equipment. Idas and Nextedge subscriber equipment are only compatible at the very narrow 6.25KHz band width setting.


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I was trying to keep it basic for the people in here.
But you are correct on TRBO extra features added to a system, can make the system locked to a specific vendor, Hytera does the same thing. Like it or not that is the way it is. Same thing with nexedge and idas.

P25 is really the only one that can have proprietary features added but still have compatibility with users.

Just because a standard may be published does no make any less proprietary specifically NXDN.
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Old 11-21-2013, 10:29 PM
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Are there any railroads outside New England that actually use NXDN? Not just licensed, but actually using? The New Hampshire Northcoast here in NH does full time, they are the only company in the US that I'm aware of.
Norfolk Southern's police dispatch channel in the Philadelphia, Allentown, Reading, and Harrisburg, PA areas is NXDN.

That is all I have heard, myself. I can only assume that the PD is using NXDN systemwide at this point.
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Old 11-22-2013, 2:57 AM
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You're right about the private firms but what about Amtrak and NJ Transit? Will they be switching to NXDN?

Mike
Amtrak uses foreign railroads most of the time, so they will have to adapt to whatever their host railroad is using.
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Old 11-22-2013, 7:06 AM
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Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 4.0.4; LG-MS870 Build/IMM76L) AppleWebKit/535.19 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/18.0.1025.166 Mobile Safari/535.19)

Ben, can you provide anymore info on NS using NXDN in Philly? I have a VHF rig and would love to finally hear something in NXDN mode, thanks
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Old 11-23-2013, 10:19 AM
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what radios/ scanners (ha!) are capable of nxdn??
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Old 11-23-2013, 10:21 AM
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what radios/ scanners (ha!) are capable of nxdn??
No scanner, several Kenwood and Icom radios are capable
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Old 11-23-2013, 10:25 AM
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NS PD is using NXDN in a lot of places, I've heard it over the past few years in Detroit and Atlanta. Also envrypted...
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Old 11-28-2013, 4:48 PM
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Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 4.0.4; LG-MS870 Build/IMM76L) AppleWebKit/535.19 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/18.0.1025.166 Mobile Safari/535.19)

Ben, can you provide anymore info on NS using NXDN in Philly? I have a VHF rig and would love to finally hear something in NXDN mode, thanks
160.560 is their main dispatch channel in PA and surrounding areas. But, I have seen several comments now indicating they are ENC. I wouldn't know since I do not have nxdn capability.
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Old 11-28-2013, 4:54 PM
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Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 4.0.4; LG-MS870 Build/IMM76L) AppleWebKit/535.19 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/18.0.1025.166 Mobile Safari/535.19)

Thanks, Ben. I will throw that into my NXDN rig and see what I come up with. Since you said that I did a search of the RR band and found another freq using NXDN. I put that one into it and appear to be hearing a yard or MOW in NJ (they mention Cooper switch).
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