Until recently, there was only one technical standard for digital radios that allowed multiple manufacturers to produce radios using common technology. That standard is known as APCO-25 or simply P25. It's a little pricey but prices are coming down as all federal agencies standardize on this technology.
There is another open standard used worldwide known as TETRA. At this time, it has not been licensed for use in the USA. A third standard, commonly known in Europe as DMR (MotoTRBO and Hytera in the USA) is offered only by Motorola domestically. That left the consumer with rather limited choices until the announcement of the NXDN standard jointly developed by ICOM and Kenwood.
On July 7, 2008 - The Chair of the General Meetings of the NXDN Forum announced that eight members have jointly established the NXDN Forum, with membership consisting of ICOM, Kenwood, Aeroflex Wichita Inc., Daniels Electronics Ltd., Ritron Inc. and Trident Micro Systems.
The aim of this group is to develop the efficient use of frequencies through digitization. Unlike the analog FM method, interactive communications by the digital method would not be possible without the standardization of specifications. The above-mentioned eight members have jointly established the NXDN Forum for he purpose of promoting the NXDN protocol in the Americas and contributing to the development of spectrum efficient digital communications produced under an open network standard.
The result will be, in our opinion, the defacto standard in the USA as increased emphasis is placed on this technology at the manufacturing level resulting in significant technical advances and lower user cost. Digital is coming, and it's coming VERY quickly. Stay tuned!