Which digi mode will win out in the end????

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ai8o

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I currently see lots of experimentation and discussion about digital voice modes,P25, Mototrbo, NXDN, D-star, etc,etc,etc.

I think that a lot of experimenting going on is a good thing.

All this experimentation will uncover all the various strengths and weaknesses of the various systems, allowing more informed choices about which system to use.

Sort of like the BetaMax vs.VHS or the Windows vs Apple OS debate of a few years ago, but with a lot more players.

Analog Narrow banding seems to be only a step toward all digital voice.

Railroads have picked NXDN as their digital standard, and are the only group that seems to have already made a choice of a new universal digital standard.

IMHO In the end, there will be only one major player left standing, and few very minor players.

I don't believe this will happen all at once, unlike when the FCC ordered the first narrowbanding of FM service communications back in the early sixties.

There will probably a series of de-facto standards adopted after a long period of adoption of digital modes by various industry groups.

Do you think Amateurs will adopt the same de-facto standards as commercial users (as is the case now) or will they go with something else?

Anyhow, does anybody have any speculation or ideas on what features will will cause on system to pull ahead of the others?
 
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N8OHU

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I currently see lots of experimentation and discussion about digital voice modes,P25, Mototrbo, NXDN, D-star, etc,etc,etc.

I think that a lot of experimenting going on is a good thing.

All this experimentation will uncover all the various strengths and weaknesses of the various systems, allowing more informed choices about which system to use.

Sort of like the BetaMax vs.VHS or the Windows vs Apple OS debate of a few years ago, but with a lot more players.

Analog Narrow banding seems to be only a step toward all digital voice.

Railroads have picked NXDN as their digital standard, and are the only group that seems to have already made a choice of a new universal digital standard.

IMHO In the end, there will be only one major player left standing, and few very minor players.

I don't believe this will happen all at once, unlike when the FCC ordered the first narrowbanding of FM service communications back in the early sixties.

There will probably a series of de-facto standards adopted after a long period of adoption of digital modes by various industry groups.

Do you think Amateurs will adopt the same de-facto standards as commercial users (as is the case now) or will they go with something else?

Anyhow, does anybody have any speculation or ideas on what features will will cause on system to pull ahead of the others?
Hams really don't need to adopt the same standard as commercial users, though there are a lot of hams that would have you think it's the better way to go; yes, I do own a MotoTRBO handheld, but I'm not sold on DMR being the best choice, nor do I think that Yaesu's System Fusion has a compelling advantage over D-Star.
 

n5ims

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Why does only one have to win out in the end? While it may be more convenient to have a single standard, it may be better to have multiple types since there is the bandwidth to support it. The other answer may be that none of the existing digital standards will win, but a new one (probably invented by hams) may solve the problems that the current standards have (mainly around using codecs that are owned by a company that requires licenses to use them) and be accepted by the masses.

Think of it this way. Who won the Beta/VHS wars? Basically it was the DVD which is now being replaced by blue ray disks.
 

rapidcharger

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IMHO In the end, there will be only one major player left standing, and few very minor players..)))
Are you talking about for amateur radio or for commercial users or an FCC mandate?
In the LMR world, there's dozens of different incompatible trunking systems. There never was a winner there. The notion that the dust will settle and LMR users will only have one digital mode left to choose from isn't what I think is going to happen.
As long as there are different companies competing for a piece of the pie, you won't have one major player left standing. I don't think the FCC is going to mandate any one of them or further narrowband anytime soon.

(((Do you think Amateurs will adopt the same de-facto standards as commercial users (as is the case now) or will they go with something else?)))
Absolutely not.
There's already guys talking about tetra for ham.
A standardized digital mode is like asking everyone to pick one HF band and only one mode of operation. It'll never happen.
Voice didn't even win over CW. Need I say more?

(((Anyhow, does anybody have any speculation or ideas on what features will will cause on system to pull ahead of the others?

If you're talking about for ham (this is the "digital voice for amateur radio use" forum afterall), again I don't think there will be a winner.
Right now the one with the most users and most infrastructure is D-star but if you asked most hams that are knowledgeable on d-star, the others have way more advantages over Dstar. Seeing as how there is only one radio manufacturer of d-star radios, if that company ever decided to stop making them, you'd see a rapid decrease in use, but even then, people would still be playing with it. Either way, isn't it safe to say that if you use purely the number of users, that D-star would be the clear winner? That isn't because it sounds good or because it's easy to use or because there's lots of cheap gear.

When it comes to DMR, at the moment, the DMR gear is currently the lowest cost and has become much more widely available than NXDN. Is that a "game changer?" Perhaps. But what works for one may not work as well for another. You mentioned the railroads picking a standard. Very few things in life can agree on a standard and stick to it. The government agencies have failed to do that.

Personally, I like how P25 works and sounds the best and I like to get to use my big cop radio. But nobody else in my city of 6 million ever uses it. We've got one excellent repeater that gives you portable in-building coverage for like 40 or 50 miles and it's crickets. Most of the activity is on D-star and DMR and d-star wasn't for me and DMR doesn't sound that great to me but I use it because it beats the pants off crappy, scratchy analog.

If there is a winner, it will lie solely with the person or entity buying the radio or buying the system and where the activity is, which will vary from place to place. Each will have their pros and cons but apparently pros and cons are irrelevant.

Now if you're talking about government, well they obviously have the complete opposite. They have more users in P25 than my local ham scene.

And if you're talking about business users, they tend to buy what is the most cost effective and has the best return on their investment. Or... they just buy it because they get taken out to lunch by the salesman. It sure is looking like the winner there is DMR.

3 completely different sets of users... 3 completely different players in the lead.
 

W9JY

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I don't think it's going to be like Beta vs. VHS or HDDVD vs. Blu-ray. I think there's going to be multiple digital modes for different kinds of users. I think hams will play with all of them. One of the cool things about ham radio is getting to experiment with stuff. I think different areas will favor one format over another. It all depends on what types of repeaters clubs or individual hams are willing to put up. I wouldn't want to limit myself to one thing.
 

WB4CS

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In the end, when all is said and done, plain old Analog FM (VHF+) and plain old SSB (HF) will probably still prevail. Analog will be the winner not because of functionality, but because of price.

Unless some China-Com radio comes out that can do digital for under $50, I don't think we'll ever see a digital voice mode replace analog on the ham bands anytime soon. Let's face it, us hams are cheap bastards. We complain about the price of used radios but yet sell them to others for more than their value. We buy $20 radios from China and then complain because we can't program them or they're junk (looking at you Baofang.) We keep using our 15 year old mobile radio, (the one with the bad mic connector and shuts off after 10 minutes of use), because we don't want to pay $120 for a new one. With that type of mentality, digital voice will never become the standard unless you can put it in a pretty box for under $49.99.
 

WB4CS

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While VHS won the war, Beta was the superior format BACK THEN.
Sorry this is off topic, but couldn't resist... Who remembers these long gone formats?

MiniDisc
Compact Cassette
D-VHS
W-VHS
S-VHS


Format wars have been going on forever, and they'll never stop. DVD replaced VHS, Blu-Ray replaced DVD, and soon something will replace Blu-Ray. In the amateur radio world, as new digital modes come along, slowly the old ones will be replaced and not long after that the modes that were "new" will be replaced with something "better." Ham's are usually technology driven people, and technological people always want the "latest and greatest." I imagine if digital modes in amateur radio become more of a standard over analog, our radios will be like the computers of today: You buy a new radio and in 6 months it's obsolete.
 
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None will rise to replace anything. There will just be more choices.

We still use CW, and that's the original digital. It's either Dash or Dot, just slower than the stream of Ones and Zeros or On and Off.

I'm one of those D-STAR guys. I helped build a network of repeaters, and learned more technical skills in 2 years than I had in the previous 20 that I had my ticket. (I had an awesome elmer) It's not my only mode. I'm also an HF/SSB guy sometimes, and look forward to trying digital in those bands. In my RV travels I probably use analog FM more than anything else. I was recently introduced to P25. P25 sounds great, and I'm going to sink the money into right now.

It's a hobby, so there will always be multiple modes and preferences. We're all in it for different reasons, and prefer certain modes, none being the Right or Wrong one. I know a few folks who like the newest technologies, and promote their opinion of it "replacing" other modes for various reasons, usually it's spectrum management. Well, this isn't business band or public safety bands. It's bands for hobby and experimenters, and a good portion of our VHF/UHF spectrum shortage is our fellow hams sitting on unused pairs. (Ooops,…RANT)

I belong to a couple of ECOMM groups. When we introduced DSTAR, the howls that were heard were unbelievable. Most were out of ignorance of the mode, or from those who held some perceived power by owning the best repeater in the county.(Yup, whackers) DSTAR has now been embraced by many of those who chose to broaden their knowledge and abilities. It added a great tool to our capabilities, and is used in exercises along with all of the other modes we had before. Tools are good, more tools are better. On a recent exercise, P25 was introduced, and the grumbling could be heard yet again, though not from the DSTAR guys. I wonder why? It'll just be another tool we can use to serve if/when the need arises. We have members who prefer certain modes, and that's their specialty. The CW guy can send faster than I can speak.

Nothing can replace the simplicity of HF and a piece of wire for ECOMM. That doesn't mean every other mode shouldn't be used in the situations it best serves. More modes will be invented. I think Jay911"s picture post pretty much says it.

As far as FCC promoting or regulating a particular mode, digital or otherwise in our bands? I say that should be assertively fought. Again, this is hobby, not space comms, cops, fire, aviation,…whatever.
 

N4KVE

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In my case, I'm on Trbo. Nothing to do with with which do I prefer, or which is better. While there is both D-Star, & Trbo where I live, it simply boils down to the fact that I have 20 or so friends on a Florida state wide DMR system, & I don't know a single person on the D-Star system. So I went with the digital format that most of my friends use. Simple as that.
 

W9JY

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It's important to have someone to talk to

Having someone to talk to is one of the most important things when choosing any band or mode. I just recently decided to go with DMR. I've been monitoring the local DMR repeater with an analog radio for a little while now. There seems to be a decent amount of activity on it. I'm looking forward to receiving my first DMR radio so I can actually decode the signal.
 

beischel

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The multi-digital voice methods will not last forever. Eventually hams will start migrating to just one of the technologies because it does us no good to have multiple VHF voice modes. Friends don't want to find themselves with one guy with DStar, another with NXDN and another with P25. Eventually these three friends will convince each other to standardize on one format. But some factors are going to have to come into play to make the one guy push the other two.

But I honestly do not see that happening for awhile. The reason being that we have three major ham manufacturers who have not decided which method they want to back. Icom with DStar, Yaesu with whatever they call it, and Kenwood sitting on the side looking for a winner (at least that is my guess).

Frankly I think Yaesu is going to be the loser in this. Kind of like their home-grown WIRES technology. No one uses it. So they either end up going with DStar, or maybe will pick DMR, NXDN or some other commercially oriented DV technology. Who knows.

Right now it is a religious war. What could tip the balance is the patent expiring on the DStar Codec which would make the entire system "open" while the other competing technologies would still have to deal with the patents on the Codecs like DMR. Everyone thinks these patented technologies add to the cost of the radio, but it is so small, it is hardly a factor. But it does cause others to think that technologies with patents are not open.

Then you have the Codec2 project to make an open codec. I don't know where that will go and tend to think it will be petty much a technology used just on HF.

So in summary, I don't see anyone winning this battle for several years. Pick what your friends are using or pick the DV technology with the most repeaters so you have someone to talk to. Being the ham in East Jesus, Iowa with a DMR handheld is not going to be the best choice for you.
 

AK9R

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The reason being that we have three major ham manufacturers who have not decided which method they want to back. Icom with DStar, Yaesu with whatever they call it, and Kenwood sitting on the side looking for a winner (at least that is my guess).
Yaesu refers to their new mode as C4FM. I think Kenwood, and Icom, for that matter, could easily add NXDN to their amateur radio lines since they already offer that mode in their commercial gear.

One factor to think about is the impact that the cheap, Chinese radios (Baofeng, Puxing, TYT, Wouxun, etc.) is having on the amateur radio market. I'll bet that Alinco/Icom/Kenwood/Yaesu are watching this very carefully. Do they continue to bring more advanced features to their radios to justify their higher prices or do they make their radios simpler so they can compete at the low end of the market? Do the Chinese manufacturers decide to support one of these digital formats and start selling digital radios of their own?

Frankly I think Yaesu is going to be the loser in this. Kind of like their home-grown WIRES technology. No one uses it.
The hams on this list might disagree with you:

LATEST WiRES-II Active ID List

Granted, WIRES appears to be more popular in Japan than anywhere else.
 

N8OHU

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The multi-digital voice methods will not last forever. Eventually hams will start migrating to just one of the technologies because it does us no good to have multiple VHF voice modes. Friends don't want to find themselves with one guy with DStar, another with NXDN and another with P25. Eventually these three friends will convince each other to standardize on one format. But some factors are going to have to come into play to make the one guy push the other two.
Given that most of the modes in use are open standards in the sense that they are published and an enterprising ham could develop hardware to support them all, I really don't foresee a change in this. What I do foresee is someone building a bridge between the various modes we all enjoy using so we can intercommunicate between them.
 
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beischel

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Given that most of the modes in use are open standards in the sense that they are published and an enterprising ham could develop hardware to support them all, I really don't foresee a change in this. What I do foresee is someone building a bridge between the various modes we all enjoy using so we can intercommunicate between them.
While that would be nice, it does not help when traveling into an area where the locals have a different local digital standard than what was adopted in your home community.

At least with FM today you can go anywhere with an FM transceiver and use a repeater or simplex.
 

N8OHU

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While that would be nice, it does not help when traveling into an area where the locals have a different local digital standard than what was adopted in your home community.
I understand what you mean, but you're kind of forgetting one detail, which brings me to your second comment.

At least with FM today you can go anywhere with an FM transceiver and use a repeater or simplex.
Yes, and this is a key part of a multiple mode bridge system like I've been running for nearly a year. If each type of network can be accessed from another one, it simplifies things immensely, since you don't need to own every type of digital radio made to contact someone; all it requires is a willingness of the local digital infrastructure maintainer to support bridging from other modes, and the cooperation of at least one analog repeater owner to support an interconnection.
 

N8IAA

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Granted, WIRES appears to be more popular in Japan than anywhere else.
Just as D-Star was implemented in Japan for the hams in that country.
I, myself, would like to see more P-25, TRBO, NXDN repeaters here in the US.
TRBO seems to be the more versatile of the three. Someday soon, I may be purchasing a TRBO commercial rig to use for ham.
In my county, the local group uses D-Star for ARES. It allows them voice and data over the same system.
Larry
 
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