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Why Choose Digital DMR Two-Way Radios instead of Analog?

Why Choose Digital DMR Two-Way Radios instead of Analog?
by   |    July 23, 2014

When it comes to purchasing 2-way radio equipment, one of the first questions people ask is “Why should I choose Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) instead of analog?” Well, there are some very specific advantages of choosing DMR technology that could have a big impact in terms of clarity, range, and even battery life.

Understanding the differences between digital and analog two-way radio technology can improve communications in education, construction, and manufacturing firms

A Tale of Two Waves

In the beginning, there was analog technology, which uses a sinusoidal wave that moves in a smooth, continuous oscillation. This waveform takes very little technology to work, and as a result it can easily transmit the natural voice.

An analog 2-way radio works as both transmitter and receiver as the continuous sinusoidal wave moves in between the sender and receiver. Because of its simplicity and reliability, analog radio technology is the original form of wireless communication, and has been around a long time, and used by commercial businesses since the early 1930’s.

In addition, because the technology of analog radios is so simple and easy to manufacture, analog two-way radios are definitely cheaper than digital.

Unfortunately, the innovation ceiling for analog radio technology has long been reached and therefore no new improved methods or systems are going to be created, and the technology has already reached its most efficient and cost-effective position possible. In addition, there are a number of additional drawbacks to commercial grade analog 2-way radio systems, including:

  • Most analog radios can only handle one conversation at a time on each channel, limiting usefulness and potentially creating confusion and frustrating communication logjams during times of high usage.
  • Analog radio fleets require transmission-specific receivers and transmitters and, generally, cannot be updated. This is problematic for expanding companies whose radio transmission needs have grown to cover a greater physical area or businesses looking to upgrade their equipment without a full fleet replacement.
  • Software applications for business and communication are not available for analog two way radios, as the simplicity of their design predates computer systems and syncing.
  • That said, a fleet of analog radios may still be a good choice for your organization. A lot of businesses don’t need a lot of bells and whistles; they just need reliable push-to-talk technology.

    Here Comes Digital

    Digital technology in DMR two-way radios operate by using binary numbers – 1s and 0s to encode, transmit, and decode sound waves. The radio sends the signal, and the vocoder on the receiving end decodes the human voice. In addition, the software in DMR radios also contains an algorithm that can distinguish and differentiate the difference between voice and background noise while simultaneously canceling undesirable audio for clearer, cleaner sound quality. Another major advantage of digital two-way radios is that they can also include software applications that can integrate into existing computer networks and phone systems. As a result, digital radios have the potential for incorporating a multitude of additional functions, including GPS, text messaging, and other forms of communication technologies and information sharing applications. By proactively transitioning to digital radios now, your organization will enjoy greater benefits immediately, and your fleet is ready for the high-efficiency, app-driven innovations coming in the future.

    Five Advantages of DMR Technology

  • Improved Audio Clarity
  • The DMR Digital technology provides improved noise reduction and protects voice quality over a longer distance than analog, especially noticeable towards the end of the transmission range, where analog radios will have a lot of static and background noise. The digital processing of the signal allows the receiving radio to screen out the background noise and reconstruct the signal even when it is very weak. This keeps the transmission clear and increases the effective range of the digital radios over analog radios where the signal clarity and strength drops off dramatically at the end of the coverage zone. Therefore, the digital technology platform is ideal for environments like noisy manufacturing and processing plants, or outside in windy conditions.

    • Better Battery Life and Power Usage
    • Getting through a full 10-12 hour work shift on a single battery charge has always been a challenge for the analog handheld two-way radios. The DMR technology uses the transmitter of the radio only half of the time compared to a narrowband analog radio, which reduces the drain on the radio’s battery almost by half. This increases the actual talk time of a single battery charge by up to 40 percent. Overall battery consumption per call is reduced, and longer usage time in the field will be noticed between recharges.
    • DMR digital radios double the capacity over existing analog equipment
    • More Robust Possibilities for User Rich Application

    Getting through a full 10-12 hour work shift on a single battery charge has always been a challenge for the analog handheld two-way radios. The DMR technology uses the transmitter of the radio only half of the time compared to a narrowband analog radio, which reduces the drain on the radio’s battery almost by half. This increases the actual talk time of a single battery charge by up to 40 percent. Overall battery consumption per call is reduced, and longer usage time in the field will be noticed between recharges.

  • Enhanced Clarity throughout the Coverage Range
  • While an analog radio is capable of producing a clear signal within its peak performance range, once the signal moves too far from the transmit point, the analog audio will slowly fade out until it is unrecognizable. By contrast, a digital signal stays much stronger and clearer to the limits of the coverage range

    A Regular analog two-way radio system uses an entire 12.5KHz narrowband channel to provide a single talk path for communication. However, the benefit of using a DMR digital radio system is that it supports two simultaneous and independent calls over the same narrowband 12.5kHz channel. This results in doubling the channel capacity of the radio system which allows businesses to split departments and users into different completely independent and private talk groups.

    Software applications are available to optimize digital platforms for many industries including education, manufacturing, logistics, and construction. Popular applications include work ticket management, Man Down and Lone Worker features for user safety, and telemetry for equipment and vehicles.

    Posted in: Industry Guides