Analogue two-way radios have been used for business applications
as far back as 1933, and they were originally placed into service
by the U.S. military 20 years before then. Today, two-way radio
technology is so widespread, it has become nearly as common as
a household appliance. This time-saving communications tool has
now become a favorite choice for commercial, industrial, military,
and even personal use.
The history of the two-way radio is long and well defined, but
the question still stands as to whether the analogue radio is strong
enough to offset the advantages of the feature-rich digital devices
that are growing in popularity.
Because the analog two-way radio has been around for as long
as it has, the ceiling of innovation has been reached. But with the
emergence of the digital platform, a new era of radio technology
has now arrived. From varying price points and the distinction
in sound quality, both technologies have significant differences
beyond just their signal types. And even though it offers numerous
advantages, the digital radio will not completely replace its analogue
Decide for yourself as you discover where the two-way radio
has been, its possibilities for the future, and whether analogue or
digital technology best suits your needs.
Understanding the Past, Present, and Future
Since the initial development of wireless communications, analogue
has been the primary technology platform for two-way radios. The
majority of radio systems today still run in analogue mode. But as
digital technology progresses and transforms—for example, as it
has with music and television—it is beginning to play a major role
in professional two-way radio communications.
Because the analogue radio system has been around for so long,
the limit of innovations has virtually been met. however, with the
digital platform, new levels of productivity and performance can be
coverage, and the availability of software applications are
only a few examples of how the advent of digital two-way radio
technology will make a difference in the coming years.
Defining the Differences
A traditional two-way radio with an analogue signal is not feature
rich on its own. Standard analogue radios usually offer push-to-talk,
scanning, simple group conversations (one-to-many), and limited
But the analogue two-way radio has a strong history. it has been
around long enough for engineers to find ways to enhance its
functionality with a number of useful features. Chances are, if
you want your analogue radio to perform a certain task, someone
else has already found a way to make it happen. This could be
considered a negative issue for the new digital two-way radios, as
they have not been in use long enough for the proper “tinkering
digital communications devices grows. For example, remember
when cellular phones were first introduced? They were all
analogue in the early days. But as more and more people became
dependent on their cell phones, digital devices were introduced,
and the rest, as they say, is history.
Two-way radios with a digital signal offer all of the same features
as analogue radios–and more. however, the features of digital radios
offered by the leading manufacturers don’t differ all that much.
Some radios promise affordable components, ease of repair, and
ease of use, while other manufacturers offer features such as
enhanced text messaging, ip connectivity, and ruggedized design
for harsh environments. All digital radios enable a 30-50 percent
longer battery life than traditional analogue radios, because the
digital radio transmitter is not constantly on.
To determine your best option, you should carefully review each
type of radio system available today to decide which is the best fit
for your specific needs. For example, in order to leverage wireless
spectrum most efficiently, you can use simple, local peer-to-peer
radio systems for wider coverage.
What exactly is an analogue signal and what is a digital signal?
Take a look at the similarities and differences between both:
Today’s analogue systems use frequency modulation (FM). The
frequency modulation produces a continuous wave with the
voice signal. By integrating such a simple system into a single
chip, the cost of this radio has dramatically reduced. Analogue
signals are commonly used in many systems today, but the uses
for analogue signals are declining with the introduction of the
more reliable digital signal.
or 0. The 1 and 0 values can correspond to different discrete
voltage values. Any signal that doesn’t quite fit into the scheme
is rounded off. By using a binary signal, error correctionembedded signaling and
control bits are possible in each packet transmitted a packet contains an assembly of bits.
The software contains an algorithm that understands the differences
between voice and background noise, and in return, cancels
the unwanted background noise and unwanted audio. The
wireless digital signal provides the same levels of reliability and
control as a wired digital signal.
Reviewing the Advantages and Disadvantages
A common misconception about two-way radios is that it is
a fading technology. With benefits such as instant private
communication, one-time purchase incentives, one-to-one or oneto-many
call options, durability, and flexibility of communication in
almost any environment, the two-way radio is still a very popular
choice for communications in virtually all markets. These include
a variety of business, commercial, and industrial applications,
as well as more high-risk environments, such as public safety,
military, security, and government.
Both digital and analogue technologies offer many of the same
popular features, but their differences set them very far apart.
Decide for yourself which technology is the best fit for your
situation as we discuss the advantages and disadvantages to
The advantages of analogue two-way systems include:
preferred by many users.
products and accessories offered is much larger and provides
for more options than does digital.
understood by the general public.
The disadvantages of analogue two-way systems include:
that are designed to fit the particular transmission. Analogue
devices can be upgraded with features but not technology.
The advantages of digital two-way systems include:
such as unit iD, status buttons, and enhanced text messages
can be embedded into a single digital radio channel.
Bandwidth consumption is reduced.
Digital signals can be handled by standardized antenna systems and existing infrastructure equipment.
The digital conversion of a user’s voice reduces external background noises. And the digital technology platform is ideal for reducing environmental noise levels during transmission, such as inside noisy manufacturing and processing plants or outside in windy conditions.
A number of new software applications are available for use with the digital platform.
The digital platform provides a migration path that allows for simultaneous use of digital and analog radios.
The disadvantages of digital two-way systems include:
Digital radios, like all new digital technology, can be somewhat more expensive.
Due to the additional features and enhanced functionality, a learning curve exists for first-time users.
Digital signals are intolerant to radio frequency (rF) noises, and in the presence of too much rF noise, the signal can result in an error.
In addition to the various advantages and disadvantages listed
above, the sound quality for both analogue and digital is very high
within their peak performance areas. An analogue radio will produce
a clear signal—accompanied by the standard white noise—within
its peak performance range. Once the signal moves further and
further away from the transmit (center) point, the audio will slowly
fade out until it is unrecognizable. By contrast, the digital signal
will stay strong and clear to the limits of coverage.
The Bottom Line
Deciding which signal is better or worse is a dependent variable,
reliant on the factors surrounding the environment and usage of
the technology. A digital system requires components that are
generally more expensive, but moderate prices often accompany
lower-end digital systems. And as digital technology becomes
more popular, the prices will become even more affordable. Also,
a digital system can more easily be integrated into the rapidly
expanding wireless ip network world.
Analogue is best suited for situations that have no use for the
enhanced features offered by digital technology. in reality, many
two-way radio users need only a simple, reliable method of
for those who would not benefit from feature-rich or software
enhanced equipment. For example, someone in the retail industry
would probably not have a need for enhanced text messaging or
GpS services, nor would the typical school teacher.
Analogue two-way radios prove themselves daily, in countless
limits of innovation, and a new platform is now required to help
achieve new levels of performance and efficiency. A user looking
for an improved analogue radio will still find the same functions—
plus much more—with the improving digital technology.
Although it may look like the world is turning digital, the analogue
radio will most likely continue to be the prominent choice for most
businesses and organizations, at least for the next couple years. The
general cost of the digital two-way radio systems will deter some
potential customers who do not see the need for the digitally
enhanced feature sets. But as the digital platform becomes more
cost effective and common, most users will eventually replace
their analog radios with their digital counterparts. Just as we have
seen network television morph into cable and satellite TV and
old, clunky cell phones evolve into today’s sleek, e-mail seeking
smartphones, our society is quickly becoming accustomed to the
ever-evolving digital world.
*Source Telechnics - http://www.telechnics.com