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[aprssig] OT: Yaesu to release digital amateur radio gear

Stephen H. Smith wa8lmf2 at aol.com
Fri Jan 6 21:27:34 UTC 2012

On 1/6/2012 3:41 PM, Amateur Radio WB8NUT wrote:
> Finally some reasonable discussions on this. So I admit not knowing much 
> about the Yaesu Moto thing, but as already stated the Codecs for both the 
> Yaesu method and the Icom method are both proprietary. So the price challenge 
> or "tax" is going to exist for both systems.
> What's next? Kenwood, TenTec and Elecraft potentially could enter into the 
> markets with their own digital designs?
> All that does is create confusion among we the amateur consumers and when 
> that happens everyone suffers because market uncertainty delays adoption of 
> technology. That benefits no one - consumers or manufacturers.

This was precisely the genesis of Project 25.

Over two decades ago, digital systems first started being proposed as a 
replacement for 50+ years of analog FM in commercial & public-safety mobile 
communications. Numerous proprietary digital protocols were pitched by 
manufacturers and basically went nowhere because each protocol was available 
from only a single manufacturer, eager to lock-in customers like police and 
fire depts to a single supplier for the life of the system.

Project 25 was undertaken by APCO (Associated Public Safety Communications 
Officials -- essentially the police and fire radio lobby) to define an open 
digital comms standard beholden to no one.  It was grossly complex, as the 
result of being the typical design-by-committee responding to an endless stream 
of "It would be really nice if it could do ...." requests.  Thousands and 
thousands of pages of documentation was issued. It not only covered the actual 
over-the-air format for simplex, repeater and trunked systems, but also defined 
standard console-to-base-station interfaces and standardized ways to 
interconnect multiple systems from different agencies (such as city PDs to 
county sheriffs to state patrols to even the FEDs.)

Many vendors played lip service to offering P25 hardware at trade shows and 
conferences (at least on paper!) but didn't really push it -- they really 
didn't want an open system, where like analog FM, you could buy compatible 
hardware from other vendors.      To make things worse, APCO turned over the 
publication,  maintenance and ratification of updates of the standard to the 
TIA (Telecommunications Industry Association).    TIA is the trade association 
and lobby of the land mobile radio manufacturers, who (surprise!) had little 
incentive to revise and update the standard in a timely manner. Each TIA member 
has the vested interest in promoting their proprietary protocol.

It wasn't until the FCC "narrow-banding" mandate for land-mobile channel 
splitting from 25 to 12.5 KHz channels (the drop-dead date for the switch is 
supposed to be Jan 1, 2013) that P25 took off at all.   Users were faced with 
turning down deviation on analog FM radios to 2.5 KHz yielding radically poorer 
audio recovery on existing equipment.  Or replacing ALL their hardware with 
newer radios, repeaters, trunking controllers, etc so why not go digital as 
well. Using agencies responded by typically adopting a wait-and-see attitude 
and stopped buying anything since the narrowband drop-dead date seemed so far 
in the future.  Under pressure largely from federal land-mobile users such as 
the FBI, Border Patrol and the U.S. Forest Service, vendors were finally forced 
into offering REAL P25 hardware.  This was largely achieved by Dept of Homeland 
Security offering large subsidies for new radio networks, but ONLY if they were 

After nearly 20 years, P25 is STILL an incomplete work-in-progress 
quasi-standard grudgingly accepted by the major radio vendors who would STILL 
like to lock you into a proprietary digital protocal for life.   By the way, 
virtually ALL radio manufacturers outside of Motorola and "the company formerly 
known as GE" that is now part of Harris (i.e. the second-tier land-mobile 
vendors like Icom, Kenwood, BK Radio, Johnson, etc) offer P25 radios by 
incorporating modules made by Motorola.

>  I stopped by the Ham Radio Outlet store in Atlanta where Mark, KJ4VO spent 
> about two hours educating me on D-Star and showing me what is was capable of 
> for amateurs. I was blown away. I had no idea.
> When traveling around to most areas of the midwest and southeast, it is hard 
> to scare up a conversation on any of the local FM repeaters. But jump to a 
> D-Star repeater and you can talk to hams locally or around the world. Seems 
> like D-Star gives amateurs a reason to get back on VHF and UHF.

Of course the same could be said of EchoLink and IRLP nodes on classic analog 
FM, without needing needing new radios or infrastucture.........



Stephen H. Smith    wa8lmf (at) aol.com
Skype:        WA8LMF
Home Page:          http://wa8lmf.net

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