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Thursday, March 08, 2018

Basic Digital Voice Infrastructure Round Up (Q1 2018 Edition)

In October of 2016, Steve K2GOG made a presentation at the Overlook Mountain Amateur Radio Club of Ulster County New York at its monthly membership meeting.

At that point in time according to Repeaterbook.com, there were 45 DMR repeaters across all of New York State.

Fast forward to March of 2018, that count has increased to 61 according to the same website.

What about Fusion, D-Star Repeaters in New York?
  • D-Star had 29 and is now up to 33
  • Fusion had 32 and is now up to 39
What about global growth of digital voice repeaters?
  • 2,204 Fusion repeaters (1,431 in Oct. 2016)
  • 2,315 D-Star repeaters (2,051 in Oct. 2016)
  • 2,326 DMR repeaters (1,493 in Oct. 2016
  • 330 P25 repeaters (213 in Oct. 2016)
  • 107 NXDN repeaters (82 in Oct.2016
How much growth has there been since October 2016?
  • 154% growth for Fusion
  • 112% growth for D-Star
  • 156% growth for DMR
  • 155% growth for P25
  • 130% growth for NXDN
With Icom's D-Star being the oldest digital voice technology at 15 years, its days of accelerated growth are unlikely due to a lack of new radio equipment being introduced. The newest radio supporting D-Star is Kenwood's tri band TH-D74 handheld at $550 USD.  A dual band FT-70DR Yaesu Fusion radio can be had new for as low as $199.99. Icom's only current dual band D-Star hand held radio is the $390 ID-51.

There are multiple dual band hand held options from different vendors however for DMR ranging from $86 for the Radioddity GD-77 at the low end and no less than 4 others from vendors such as alinco, Anyone, Aiulence, Retevis and TYT for between $150 to $200.

There are also commercial radios that can be purchased new or at reduced cost for used options for DMR, P25 and NXDN. DMR is the only mode supported by non-commercial radio vendors though.

What about non-repeater use?

Hot spot devices such as the Shark RF OpenSpot, MMDVM based ZUMSpot, JumboSpot, NanoSpot devices and a few others allow users not near a repeater to talk globally. All of these devices are capable to support most all modes listed above and a few able to cross mode translate. This function allows a user to use a DMR radio to talk on D-Star or Fusion networks as an example.

According to Brandmeister Network, there are 5,498 hot spots currently connected to its network which is interesting given that there are only 7,282 digital voice repeaters accounted for globally. Combined, repeaters and hot spots make a very robust communications network for both local and global communications.


Democratized Modern Radio 

Digital voice infrastructure would not be needed if there were no users looking to access it, so a rough conservative estimate is that there should be between 350,000 and 700,000  hand held digital amateur radios in somewhat frequent use globally based on repeater and hot spot deployment figures. That figure is based on the following criteria:
  • Number of known registered DMR users
  • Number of hot spots currently internet connected 
  • Number of repeaters currently internet connected
  • Number of repeaters not internet connected
  • Number of DMR handheld radio products sold in last 12 months on E-Bay
  • Estimated number of D-Star and Fusion users and equipment currently in use. 

Leave a comment about estimated hand held or combined with other form factors below. 

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