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

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AA9VI

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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.
Excellent point. There are many hams out there who have this one track mind that one has to win out. It's probably not going to happen that way. The market dynamics for a video recorder and a portable radio are completely different. You're just going to have to analyze what's out there and make a decision (or two). Waiting on the sidelines for one technology to somehow breakout from the others is going to be a decade or more. So, are you still going to only use a crappy analog radio for 10+ years while you wait? Yes, I did say crappy when you consider analog is a waste of bandwidth. 25 kHz and only one voice channel? The battery gets drained with that 100% duty cycle way too quick.

I like the following in this order:
DMR - many manufacturers, price points below $200 on some Chinese radios now. Most spectrum efficient with up to 4 voice channels in 25 kHz. Battery life is good with TDMA. Drawback: it is a commercial standard that is not as friendly to tinkering, though it can be quite flexible with a C-bridge controller.
NEXEDGE- well done, and spectrum efficient just slightly less than DMR because of guard bands. I'm surprised this has not overtaken D-star already. It is a far better technology.
YAESU FUSION- Too late to the game. Well designed but their timing is awful. 5-6 years earlier and if they teamed up with someone like Alinco or Kenwood, they may have cornered the market. Not a big fan of 12.5 kHz FDMA either.
D-STAR- Lots of radios out there due to the freebie repeater deals a while back but the RX design is poor. The mechanics are only slightly better, the radios are very susceptible to RFI too. GMSK is an old and inefficient technology when compared to C4FM now. The portable and mobiles are still made by one manufacturer and are quite expensive. The only redeeming factors are that it it a large dynamically routable network, you can homebrew a repeater, the ircddB network is nice, and there is some experimentation going on with scripting to add features to the repeaters.
ANALOG 25 kHz- Days are numbered as commercial companies try and buy spectrum. Amateur radio will be narrowbanded to 12.5 kHz in our lifetime. No doubt. I'd venture to guess in the next 15 years we may not see traditional wideband repeaters on the air.
P-25 - only because it is so expensive will it never take hold that much
 
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AK9R

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I have some comments to toss into the discussion:

There are many hams out there who have this one track mind that one has to win out.
Because hams are traditionally tight with their money (call it "cheap" if you like) and don't want to spend money on the wrong technology.

So, are you still going to only use a crappy analog radio for 10+ years while you wait? Yes, I did say crappy when you consider analog is a waste of bandwidth. 25 kHz and only one voice channel? The battery gets drained with that 100% duty cycle way too quick.
A waste of bandwidth to whom? Is amateur radio running out of bandwidth? More on that later.

NEXEDGE- well done, and spectrum efficient just slightly less than DMR because of guard bands. I'm surprised this has not overtaken D-star already. It is a far better technology.
I am really surprised Kenwood hasn't brought out a NXDN radio in their amateur line. I suspect that they don't want to risk losing sales of their NX-series commercial radios to potential buyers who would modify NXDN amateur radios for out-of-band transmit.

YAESU FUSION- Too late to the game. Well designed but their timing is awful. 5-6 years earlier and if they teamed up with someone like Alinco or Kenwood, they may have cornered the market.
As I was watching the Yaesu Fusion roll-out video, I kept thinking three thoughts: a. If this is really a better system for amateur radio than D-STAR, how long will it take the amateur radio community to recognize it? b. Knowing that amateur radio operators are a geeky lot, why wasn't Yaesu more prepared at the roll-out to discuss the technical details? c. This will never get off the ground if Yaesu isn't prepared to do battle with Icom on the infrastructure, i.e. give away repeaters like Icom did with D-STAR.

D-STAR- Lots of radios out there due to the freebie repeater deals a while back but the RX design is poor. The mechanics are only slightly better, the radios are very susceptible to RFI too.
Since there is a D-STAR repeater using Icom hardware located at a repeater site where I am a trustee, I've taken a small interest in the repeater hardware. Two things strike me about the Icom D-STAR repeaters: a. Their repeater is basically two D-STAR mobile radios back-to-back with a controller to integrate the two radios. b. There's no way we've found to remotely turn off the repeater over the air.

Amateur radio will be narrowbanded to 12.5 kHz in our lifetime. No doubt. I'd venture to guess in the next 15 years we may not see traditional wideband repeaters on the air.
Why? Who's going to drive this? Unless the FCC reduces the VHF/UHF spectrum available to amateur radio, I don't see a big push to narrowband VHF/UHF analog FM. Granted, in some parts of the country, the repeater sub-bands are crowded with coordinated repeaters. How many of those repeaters are silent most of the day? How many of those coordinations are for backyard repeaters that would be better suited using shared non-protected pairs? How many of those coordinations are for repeaters that don't physically exist? Maybe I have my head in the sand, but I don't see an administrative need for narrowbanding the VHF/UHF amateur bands even though it may be the smart thing to do from a technical standpoint.
 

AA9VI

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I have some comments to toss into the discussion:
As I was watching the Yaesu Fusion roll-out video, I kept thinking three thoughts: a. If this is really a better system for amateur radio than D-STAR, how long will it take the amateur radio community to recognize it? b. Knowing that amateur radio operators are a geeky lot, why wasn't Yaesu more prepared at the roll-out to discuss the technical details? c. This will never get off the ground if Yaesu isn't prepared to do battle with Icom on the infrastructure, i.e. give away repeaters like Icom did with D-STAR.
What Icom did for freebies is a pretty stupid long term business decision. Short term it looks good when there are no alternatives. Now that there are digital mobile and portable alternatives that cost less, people are going to look at them. Icom's margins are severely eroded with the freebies. If they were a charity I'd say great, but they are supposed to be in the business of making money. I can't see Yaesu doing this. I, like many others, think Fusion will end up on the sidelines with WIRES. It's timing and theirs sucks. Better or not, it won't take hold as a widely used 2-way ham protocol.

Since there is a D-STAR repeater using Icom hardware located at a repeater site where I am a trustee, I've taken a small interest in the repeater hardware. Two things strike me about the Icom D-STAR repeaters: a. Their repeater is basically two D-STAR mobile radios back-to-back with a controller to integrate the two radios. b. There's no way we've found to remotely turn off the repeater over the air.
As long as you can turn them off via IP reliably it's permissible under FCC rules. If you want an over the air means, buy a DTMF controller that switches a relay to turn off the AC. I think there may be a command with the ircddB RPT1CALL config that turns it off too.


Why? Who's going to drive this? Unless the FCC reduces the VHF/UHF spectrum available to amateur radio, I don't see a big push to narrowband VHF/UHF analog FM. Granted, in some parts of the country, the repeater sub-bands are crowded with coordinated repeaters. How many of those repeaters are silent most of the day? How many of those coordinations are for backyard repeaters that would be better suited using shared non-protected pairs? How many of those coordinations are for repeaters that don't physically exist? Maybe I have my head in the sand, but I don't see an administrative need for narrowbanding the VHF/UHF amateur bands even though it may be the smart thing to do from a technical standpoint.
The FCC will at some point with exactly as you said, an effort to decrease the 70cm band available to amateur use. I'm sure you've heard of the parties interested in this band already. It's not rural areas that drive changes in the bands, it's the urban areas. Have you seen what they have been doing to commercial TV and radio lately? It's abysmal. The carrier cramming is unbelievable. There's little regard for interference. Many ham radios produced in the last 5-7 years will do narrowbanding too. Now, add that all up plus that hams are secondary users on the 70cm band? This is a no brainer.

You'll get no argument from me about the amount of dead repeaters on the air, but the FCC could care less. They're after chunks of bandwidth and they'll get it by auctioning it to the highest bidder. Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, WiFi startups, or even broadcasters to mobile devices will go after this spectrum.
 

AK9R

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Short term it looks good when there are no alternatives. Now that there are digital mobile and portable alternatives that cost less, people are going to look at them.
Agreed. But Icom's ploy got their foot firmly in the door, to the point of being entrenched in some circles, well ahead of the other modes.

As long as you can turn them off via IP reliably it's permissible under FCC rules. If you want an over the air means, buy a DTMF controller that switches a relay to turn off the AC.
We may have the only D-STAR repeater without an IP connection. ;) Unfortunately, there's no Internet available (that is, free) to us at this site. We can control a relay from an output on our analog repeater controller and that's probably the way we'll go to control the D-STAR repeater.

The FCC will at some point with exactly as you said, an effort to decrease the 70cm band available to amateur use.
Amateur radio is already secondary on the 70cm band and the Federal government is primary. If the NTIA is ever convinced to give up some of that spectrum, we'll be in trouble. We'll have to realign the 430-440 MHz segment of the band, get rid of the paper and under-utilized repeaters, and look at narrowbanding. On the other hand, if the NTIA hangs on to that spectrum, we'll be OK. As for the amateur radio "repeater bands" below 300 MHz, I can't see commercial interests being that interested.
 

N8OHU

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D-STAR- Lots of radios out there due to the freebie repeater deals a while back but the RX design is poor. The mechanics are only slightly better, the radios are very susceptible to RFI too. GMSK is an old and inefficient technology when compared to C4FM now. The portable and mobiles are still made by one manufacturer and are quite expensive. The only redeeming factors are that it it a large dynamically routable network, you can homebrew a repeater, the ircddB network is nice, and there is some experimentation going on with scripting to add features to the repeaters.
As has been said in other threads, Icom made a choice between the modulation techniques that the JARL gave them in the protocol. It may not have been the best choice, but why should that have stopped Kenwood/Yaesu/etc. from choosing to implement 4FSK or QPSK in addtion to GMSK for compatibility with Icom's repeaters.
 

hitechRadio

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Internet and Smart Phones will be the prefered digital modes in the future. Already kinda is, actually. Some people probably spend more time on here talking about ham radio, than actually on Ham radio.

In my opinion there will be no prefered digital mode. D-Star has some cool features but the audio sucks compared to Trbo,NXDN and P25. It is kinda like the CW vs AM vs SSB debate, everyone has there groups there gonna hang with. And every mode has there Pro's and Con's.

Multiple digital modes is fine and dandy in the HAM world, but it has absolutley no place in the commercial world. All Public saftey should be mandated to P25 in my opinion. And if we go that far lets make it 700 and 800 Mhz only for Public saftey too. Public saftey all on the same band and same mode, thats interoperability. Maybe LTE will solve that, will see in the future.
 

MTS2000des

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Multiple digital modes is fine and dandy in the HAM world, but it has absolutley no place in the commercial world. All Public saftey should be mandated to P25 in my opinion. And if we go that far lets make it 700 and 800 Mhz only for Public saftey too. Public saftey all on the same band and same mode, thats interoperability. Maybe LTE will solve that, will see in the future.
Total hogwash. First, Interoperability does not mean everyone has to be on the same band. Such nonsense spread by vendors who want to pump and dump us taxpayers.

Second, there is not enough spectrum on the 700MHz and 800MHz band for every major metro area to put up large phase 2 systems..and LTE? How do you plan to pay for this? In rural areas, there is no need for expensive networks that require high dollar maintenance and a support staff. Many of you folks forget the majority of the USA is still rural. The California Highway Patrol still uses VHF low band! VHF and UHF is still predominant and will be in the near future.

The practicality of "interoperability" is easily achieved with systems like gateways, switches and cross band repeaters and it works well, is affordable, and doesn't require tons of costly infrastructure that gets forklift upgraded.

This post from a 33 year Georgia public safety communications veteran sums it up well:

http://forums.radioreference.com/ge...forum/273926-troup-county-ga.html#post2096709

Bringing it back to ham radio, the magic of our radio service is we practice linking and connecting various disparate systems and modes and have been for decades. Way before the new high tech ACU1000's and such made it to the commercial market. Back in the 1980's when Advanced Computer Controls introduced their 850 and 96 controllers with remote base interface, we had and still have linked repeater networks with HF-UHF remote bases.

Today with IRLP, EchoLink and affordable repeater controllers we can build networks that put some overpriced and over budgeted public safety systems to shame.

I think Asterisk is the gateway of the future for bridging digital and analog modes.

Now getting everyone to agree to work together, well, that is a problem that has existed long before any technology standard favorite flavor of the day, and will always be the biggest barrier.

It is in public safety and it is in ham radio too. You can't force two people, groups or what not to WANT to talk to each other, no matter how much hardware (and money) you throw at them.
 

AK9R

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Folks, let's keep this thread focused on amateur radio digital voice modes. What has happened, what will happen, and what folks think should happen in commercial land mobile radio is off-topic for this thread, though I recognize that there will be some trickle-down to amateur radio. After all, that's how we ended up with analog FM repeaters.

Today with IRLP, EchoLink and affordable repeater controllers we can build networks that put some overpriced and over budgeted public safety systems to shame.
This brings me to a question for the D-STAR, DMR/TRBO, NXDN, and P25 proponents...What do these digital voice modes offer amateur radio that we don't already have?

If the objective is to link repeater systems, we can already do that using analog or digital links. EchoLink, IRLP, and other VoIP linking strategies already have a large base of connected systems. When it comes to repeater linking, what can you do with these digital voice modes that we can't already do with VoIP?

What advantage is there to making the "last mile" between the repeater and the user digital as well? If the answer is reduced bandwidth and greater spectrum efficiency, we can do that now by mandating narrow-band analog FM in the repeater sub-bands. But, I will point you back to my previous argument that moving the backyard repeaters to shared non-protected pairs and de-coordinating the paper repeaters will open up a lot of spectrum. If the answer is user access to a data stream, which of the available modes, besides D-STAR (and I'm not impressed by D-STAR's data capabilities on shared voice links), offers that? If the answer is experimentation, how much of this is real experimentation and how much is just implementing what the land mobile folks are already doing?

In other words, what is the compelling need for digital voice in amateur radio?
 

MTS2000des

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The biggest advantage to using digital for the "last mile":

-Better sound, no static.
-Slightly better coverage, again- no static or crackling.
-Controlling access (at least with P25, NXDN and DMR, subscriber authentication can be utilized) No more Baofeng bandits!
-Advanced features like radio ID, text messaging, etc
-Integrated voice and data
-On TDMA based systems like DMR, multiple users can share the same repeater at the same time
 

hitechRadio

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Total hogwash. First, Interoperability does not mean everyone has to be on the same band. Such nonsense spread by vendors who want to pump and dump us taxpayers.

The practicality of "interoperability" is easily achieved with systems like gateways, switches and cross band repeaters and it works well, is affordable, and doesn't require tons of costly infrastructure that gets forklift upgraded.
Like I said my opinion,

Your suggestions are valid when it comes to gateways and they have there place but does not solve the interop problem.
An 800 LEO in city A does not need to talk to a VHF LEO in city B, 10 miles apart while they are in the offices.
They need interoperability when on scene at moments notice, car chase, missing child, mut-aid response fire.
A patch between those desperate systems does not solve interoperability.
As when the other agency comes into the other agencies area, the patch does no good if the agency is out of range of there own system(thus the patch)and they are on different bands.


I will create athread called "what does interoperabilty mean to you for public saftey?" To get this descusion out of here.

EDIT: New thread here: http://forums.radioreference.com/in...s-interoperabilty-mean-you-public-saftey.html


Back to the topic as I said IMHO Digital modes they will all have a place in ham radio.Not one will when ou if were not comparing numbers of systems.
 
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AK9R

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Thanks for the list. My responses in italics:

  • Better sound, no static. I'm not impressed with the audio quality of D-STAR nor P25 (using a subscriber radio, not a scanner). Are DMR or NXDN better?
  • Slightly better coverage, again- no static or crackling. This may be subjective, but I'll ask anyway...If someone was so weak into an analog FM repeater as to be unreadable, how close would they be to the "digital cliff" if they were using a digital mode?
  • Controlling access (at least with P25, NXDN and DMR, subscriber authentication can be utilized) No more Baofeng bandits! This one's tempting, but I think it means that if a user was not registered with the system, they wouldn't be able to access the system. That would bar new users or passers-by from using the system. Not exactly amateur radio friendly.
  • Advanced features like radio ID, text messaging, etc I can see uses for both features.
  • Integrated voice and data Data at what symbol rate? Does the data stream compromise the digital voice stream?
  • On TDMA based systems like DMR, multiple users can share the same repeater at the same time Since many repeaters are "watering holes" where hams like to congregate and engage in group discussions, wouldn't shared use segregate the conversations?
 

N8OHU

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If the answer is user access to a data stream, which of the available modes, besides D-STAR (and I'm not impressed by D-STAR's data capabilities on shared voice links), offers that?
D-STAR's Slow Data Mode (the data on the DV Stream) wasn't intended to be the only one used, but Icom didn't seem to understand that; DV/DD in the same radio at similar speeds was quite likely one of the intended designs.

If the answer is experimentation, how much of this is real experimentation and how much is just implementing what the land mobile folks are already doing?
I will say there is a lot of give and take here; DMR seems to be doing both, and the Amateur NXDN community has gone and borrowed technology originally implemented for D-STAR to build their network.


In other words, what is the compelling need for digital voice in amateur radio?
No compelling need if you aren't interested in it, but it does have some benefits as other posters have stated.
 

AK9R

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No compelling need if you aren't interested in it, but it does have some benefits as other posters have stated.
I see it as a chicken-egg problem. If I saw the compelling need, I'd be interested. If I was interested, I find the compelling need.
 
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Usage of systems

Agreed. But Icom's ploy got their foot firmly in the door, to the point of being entrenched in some circles, well ahead of the other modes..
I would be curious to know how much DSTAR repeaters are actually being used. There are several here in my area that go for days and weeks with little or no activity. I am wondering if there is any way to track usage of these machines.
 

rapidcharger

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Thanks for the list. My responses in italics:)))
These questions weren't directed at me but since the person who it was directed at has experimented with digital with me and since they haven't come back yet, maybe you'll be interested in my responses.

(((
  • Better sound, no static. I'm not impressed with the audio quality of D-STAR nor P25 (using a subscriber radio, not a scanner). Are DMR or NXDN better?)))


  • I think P25 sounds the best out of all of them but usually people on here say NXDN and DMR (especially NXDN though) sound better than P25. It's subjective. The biggest complaint is that DMR sounds "nasaly." Sometimes NXDN sounds bad depending on the settings of the radio. A clear analog wideband signal is tough to beat when it's clear. But let me just say that it's not just about what you're hearing. It's about what you aren't hearing.

    Yours truly took a DMR radio with one hand and stuck it and my head out the window of a car going 70mph on the interstate, FACING THE WIND, and proceeded to speak into the radio to see if my normal voice would be intelligible over the wind noise. The result amazed me. The person on the other end of the radio (the person who typed up that long list) did not hear ANY wind noise. and they heard what I was saying without having to shout like John Zarella on CNN standing on a beach during a hurricane.

    You're also not hearing all the beeps and bops and silly noisemakers and talking repeater controllers. Good riddance to all of that.


    ((([*]Slightly better coverage, again- no static or crackling. This may be subjective, but I'll ask anyway...If someone was so weak into an analog FM repeater as to be unreadable, how close would they be to the "digital cliff" if they were using a digital mode?)))
    Well, he was sorta wrong here. It isn't "slightly" better coverage. It's drastically better coverage.

    As for the digital cliff, I was on a 4 watt DMR portable, using a rubber duckie antenna from inside my vehicle at this location... http://goo.gl/maps/w8zEz
    talking to the same gentlemen who wrote that list, through the repeater located
    approximately here... (we think) http://goo.gl/maps/msV9I

    that was where I lost the repeater but I didn't lose the repeater due to propagation delay. I lost the repeater because of terrain after I turned. Finally.

    I live farther to the south and using the very same radio, on the very same repeater (it's mixed mode), transmitting from the exact same spot at the same general time, I can not even break squelch on the repeater in analog but in digital, it's crystal clear. So the digital cliff is nowhere in sight in my trials.

    ((([*]Controlling access (at least with P25, NXDN and DMR, subscriber authentication can be utilized) No more Baofeng bandits! This one's tempting, but I think it means that if a user was not registered with the system, they wouldn't be able to access the system. That would bar new users or passers-by from using the system. Not exactly amateur radio friendly.)))
    The Baofeng Bandits are not amateur radio friendly either and the system owner should be able to protect the network. There's a difference between closed repeaters/networks and protected networks requiring authentication to any licensed ham who asks for it.In a city where jammers and lids have paralyzed repeaters during wide area nets, it's nice to have this capability if it's ever needed.
    And hey, I've asked for access on a particular closed DMR network and was wasn't granted :( But whatever. It's their property, it's their decision to make.



    ((([*]On TDMA based systems like DMR, multiple users can share the same repeater at the same time Since many repeaters are "watering holes" where hams like to congregate and engage in group discussions, wouldn't shared use segregate the conversations?)))
Yes but not everyone wants to hear me and the person who wrote that list talk about toxic dog farts, for example. And likewise not everyone wants to talk about X, Y or Z. If the subject matter on slot 2 doesn't interest you, perhaps the subject matter on slot 1 will be more to your liking. The days of lots and lots of high site repeaters in good repair may be gone but when one repeater does the job of two repeaters, that helps a lot. You don't need to interrupt a QSO in progress when you need to make a contact with someone else.
Myself, I've long yearned for the day where a repeater was still usable even when there was yet another redundant severe weather net taking place on it. Well that day has come.
 
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N8OHU

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rapidcharger, to me the potential benefits of "subscriber only" access to a system aren't worth the hostility it can generate. My view is that a system should be open enough that anyone can use it, including potential undesirable elements, and only lock out those that have government defined license restrictions that actively forbid them to use certain modes or be on certain bands. However, I respect those that have a different opinion and choose to have a "private" system.

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AK9R

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You don't need to interrupt a QSO in progress when you need to make a contact with someone else.
If there is a conversation in progress on Slot 1 and I want to call someone who isn't part of the conversation, how do I do that? If he's listening to the conversation on Slot 1, how do I call him, I assume using Slot 2, and get him to hear my call.

rapidcharger, to me the potential benefits of "subscriber only" access to a system aren't worth the hostility it can generate.
That's my concern. D-STAR, I believe, already practices a bit of this in that if you aren't registered, you can't use the network features. If I put up a DMR system and told the local hams they had to register in order to even put out their callsign on the repeater, I think I'd be labeled as an elitist snob.
 

N8OHU

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If there is a conversation in progress on Slot 1 and I want to call someone who isn't part of the conversation, how do I do that? If he's listening to the conversation on Slot 1, how do I call him, I assume using Slot 2, and get him to hear my call.
I can't answer this one; the guys that use DMR would know better that I do.


That's my concern. D-STAR, I believe, already practices a bit of this in that if you aren't registered, you can't use the network features. If I put up a DMR system and told the local hams they had to register in order to even put out their callsign on the repeater, I think I'd be labeled as an elitist snob.
It's more a quirk of the Icom software and DPlus than a hard requirement, as the guys on the Quad-Net can attest to. The D-STAR protocol does not require any sort of registration for users to be able to use any functions of the system; the only thing that is really needed is a way to enforce regulatory requirements.



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rapidcharger

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rapidcharger, to me the potential benefits of "subscriber only" access to a system aren't worth the hostility it can generate. My view is that a system should be open enough that anyone can use it, including potential undesirable elements, and only lock out those that have government defined license restrictions that actively forbid them to use certain modes or be on certain bands. However, I respect those that have a different opinion and choose to have a "private" system.

Sent from my ADR8995 using Tapatalk 2
Let me be clear.
I do not support closed / private systems in the ham band.

But there is a difference between THAT and having control over a system that can disrupt an entire worldwide network. Requiring someone to get an ID number from a totally unrelated 3rd party that doesn't do any screening whatsoever other than to make sure you're a ham, in no way, shape or form, makes that a closed system in my view.

As for privacy, the DMR-MARC, Hytera DMR and the NXDN network has live streams of the worldwide talkgroups on the internet for everyone to listen to.

And as for undesirable elements, aside from that closed system I was referring to which is actually in another state and perhaps that's the reason they didn't give me access, I don't know of any such screening. A couple of our most notorious local troublemakers on analog, whom we all know who they are, actually have marc IDs but don't have radios. Yet. I'm sure that they could behave differently on the system and not have any problems but if they start pulling the same antics they do on analog, I'm sure they would be gone in a jiffy.

Another thing to remember is it's possible to use different talk groups can be used unbeknownst to a repeater owner. In order to maintain control, talkgroups need to be limited and it helps to know who is using your system.
 
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