Digital Voice in Amateur Radio - Still a Fragmented Mess

While D-Star still reigns king as the digital voice standard in Amateur Radio, there is growing fragmentation in the ranks. Everyone has their own biases as to which one they like. Everyone throwing fud around trying the make the other guy’s choice look inferior. Yeah, I have been somewhat guilty of that too.

But it is amazing the number of choices out there. Icom with D-Star and Yaesu with its System Fusion are the only manufacturers making equipment specifically for hams. Those who want to use P25, DMR, NXDN have to rely on getting equipment from manufacturers who are concentrating on the commercial markets.

Then of course there is the Open Codec projects. All the systems mentioned above use a proprietary codec. Open Codec is an attempt to create a codec free of license fees. No ham manufacturer has adopted it and it seems to be only used on the HF bands right now using a software application that has to reside on a PC/Mac/Linux system.

In any case, Icom and Yaesu have put their digital stakes in the ground. Kenwood and the others continue to sit on the sidelines I guess waiting to see where the chips fall.

I just wonder how long the inevitable shake-out with the digital voice technologies will take. It could be years and years. One thing is for sure, the longer it takes, the longer it will be for the vast majority of amateurs to move from FM and adopt digital. No one wants to buy a radio that is going to end up an orphan.