Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Is there ANY reason to upgrade to digital radios?

We recently published comments that were somewhat less than supportive of VHF digital radios using TDMA technology , and in particular MotoTRBO.  Our real issue is not so much with the technology, but the sales tactics used to "sell" the product.  The absence or withholding of facts from prospective customers is a shameful tactic.  Fortunately, this is not true of all MotoTRBO dealers, but all too often, the tactic is evident.

That does not mean the baby should be thrown out with the bathwater.  There ARE many situations where digital radios DO have an advantage over analog, but NOT for wide area VHF (136-174 MHz) repeater systems used by public safety agencies.  So where does digital have the edge over analog?  The answer is when the system operates in the UHF 450-470 MHz band, and in particular for on-site use in construction, educational institutions, hospitals, logistics centers (we used to call them warehouses), and manufacturing plants, among others.

So just what exactly are the practical advantages of TDMA digital over either FDMA digital (like ICOM and Kenwood use), P25 digital, or analog?  The simple answer is CHANNEL CAPACITY.  Both MotoTRBO and Hytera radios use TDMA and both give you the benefits of having two operational channels for the price of one.  You can have two voice channels, two data channels, or one voice and one data channel on a single 12.5 kHz narrow band channel.  This is accomplishing by splitting the channel into two separate 6.25 "slots".  This is a HUGE benefit and a primary reason why we almost always favor TDMA for UHF wide area and on-site systems.  We rarely recommend the use of TDMA for use by wide area VHF users for reasons contained in the recent report issued by the frequency coordinators advisory committee (Click here for a summary of that report).

For purposes of clarification, we should point out that there are variations of TDMA. The TDMA standard employed in MotoTRBO and Hytera radios is known as the DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) standard.  You can read more about this standard, and in particular as it relates to Hytera, by clicking here.  This brings us to the obvious question is which is better?  MotoTRBO or Hytera?  Good question!  Motorola is the Number One 2-way manufacturer in the world.  Hytera is Number Two (bet you didn't know that), so we can conclude that the two companies are about equal in technical capabilities, reliability, features, function, and support.  With that being said, we will also say this.  We support HYTERA!  Here's why!

On average, model for model, Hytera is a least $100 per radio LESS than Motorola.  Hytera offers a five year warranty versus two for Motorola, and Hytera includes two channel trunking capability at no extra charge.  That is a HUGE benefit!  Most importantly, Hytera operates on an open operating standard which means it is compatible with other DMR radios.  Motorola radios can operate in the open standard mode, but most systems are designed around a feature called Capacity Plus which locks out all other suppliers.  In other words, once you have purchased a Motorola DMR system, you will pay whatever price your supplier chooses to charge and you have no alternatives.  This may be good for Motorola stockholders but not so good for the user. Oh, BTW, there is one more reason for choosing Hytera.  For every 25 radios purchased, you get a FREE repeater!

So, in summary, there ARE situations where digital is the better choice over analog.  Just make sure you have all the facts before making a decision.  If you have any questions, give us a call.  You'll be glad you did in the long run.  Our toll free number is 800.489.2611 or drop us an email to ServingU@falcondirect.com.