Will digital radios replace analog radios?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

0 voters

I’ve been thinking about having this discussion for awhile, and we finally got around to addressing it. We speculate on whether or not digital will ultimately replace analog two way radios completely at some point. There are arguments for and against this scenario, but we could see it happening in at least one niche, and possibly sooner rather than later. It’s an interesting discussion, and we welcome everyone to chime in.

TWRS-142 - Will Digital Replace the Analog Radio?

You can find the show notes here. You can leave comments here, and if we read yours on the next episode, we’ll send you a Two Way Radio Show T-shirt or some swag!

Yes…you can’t type accept a Part 90 radio that outputs more than 2W and isn’t 6.25 kHz equivalent.

Which means, over time everyone’s radios will be replace by digital capable anyway. At that point, going digital sometimes offers more benefits than you loose staying with analog.

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Digital has a lot going for it, but often times when something goes that route, those with money and clout will find ways to introduce proprietary and locked-down functionality that ultimately they control and can take away once they feel they need even more money.

I appreciate analog simplicity and interoperability, even if it falls short on some levels (certainly not all). However, I see digital encroaching more and more in the future. I just don’t think I am on board.

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That’s an interesting observation about proprietary lock-down of digital systems. While it’s not exclusive to digital, it is something to consider. Attempts have also been made to keep users on a brand or model in analog, such as the way Motorola uses companding, but it isn’t as easy to introduce or control proprietary features in analog as it is with a digital system.

The reason I say no is spouse there is ether a large electromagnetic pulse or a very large solar storm, likes of that have never been seen or recorded. We will be back in the early 1960’s. Cell phones, computer’s, digital tv’s, radios and the digital tv/radio transmitters will be dead. We will be back to the old analog vacuum tube tv’s and radios. The old analog vacuum tube stuff will be the only stuff still working. Unless the digital radios, cell phones and computer’s are stored in a faraday cage. I am from the old school. When I was working on 2 way radios, tv’s and early vcr’s there was still tube checkers in the grocery store, and back then I made house calls to fix tv’s and so on. And I had a big box full of vacuum tubes. I still have my old portable vacuum tube tester, and I still have a vacuum tube powered rf gen, am broadcast band to 10 meters. They both still work. I also have an old stile telephone dial type lineman’s handset. Well that’s where I come from.

I remember the tube tester kiosks at the local 7-Elevens when I was a kid, and I had to replace a few tubes in our TV back in the day. I thought it was pretty cool tech at the time, but it was intimidating because of the high voltage and the heat they generated. Ah, those were the days.

Professionally I refused to touch any radio with tubes or channel elements…fun times.

Digital and analog both have their places. Digital offers better audio as the signals get weaker especially since most users can handle bit error here and there as they approach the proverbial cliff. Analog offers higher fidelity audio if we are talking about being constrained to a 12.5 kHz channel but as it degrades it gets noisier and noisier. Some (such as myself) have been spoiled by the noise free audio of digital and simply can’t stand the analog noise.

Last week I had a chance to sit down with my R2670 service monitor and a Motorola APX1500 I had laying around and really do a good audio test. The radio was still setup exactly as it was the last time I loaned it out to a small PD…mixed mode, narrowband, conventional operation. I found that the 12 dB SINAD point was higher (in terms of signal level) of the point which the radio hit 5% BER for P25 operation. At the 12 dB SINAD point there was noise, the occasional pop, and voice. At that same point there was just clean audio on the digital side. In that particular configuration, it was very interesting to see that the digital audio became so garbled and unrecognizable at the same point the tone squelch circuit on the radio just squelched the radio entirely.

Digital is here now, and gradually analogue will simply fade away. TV went digital a long while back, and nobody even knows they’re using digital. Phones, recording equipment, cameras - digital is just so much more user friendly in terms of what you can do with it. We can argue about quality and other things, but it’s just more efficient in practically every case. As for the sunspot cycle, electromagnetic storms and EMP, they cause havoc with all comms, analogue and digital so we just get different kinds of interference. Here on the UK coast, each summer dutch TV would romp in and wipe out our local TV - we’d get patterning first, then it would break up and sometimes the dutch pictures would win. Now, the error rate creeps up and the picture freezes and then blanks. That’s it. We get perfect pictures until we don’t.

interesting to note that many purists are reverting to vinyl as they do not like the over crisp reproduction of digital for music

Yes, but these people are a tiny majority prepared to pay for it for to be frank, a rather dubious reason. They cite sound quality but then if or clicks, pops, fragility and infrastructure costs. An mp3 download is very cheap and does the job. Same with radios. Enthusiasts may like analogue but we’re the tiny proportion again. So many radio users didn’t even notice they went digital!

No, digital will not -replace- analog. It will supliment analog.