Categories: Two Way Radio

Digital Two Way Radio (DMR) Is Maturing

Digital Two Way Radio Protocols


There are now a number of digital radio protocols available including DMR, dPMR, TETRA and P25.

These systems are not compatible with each other.

The most common Digital Two Way Radio standards for business use are DMR and dPMR. Both systems have their pros and cons and both standards have had a number of updates and improvements.
With fairly regular white papers and press releases over recent years, claiming superior performance by both sides, attempts at impartial assessment or comparison was difficult.
End user requirements can vary widely, so a “catch all” comparison was virtually impossible.

The early days of Digital saw much debate over these competing standards, but over time, DMR seems to be taking a market lead.

DMR is an open standard run by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).
An increasing number of radio manufacturers are now supporting this standard. Changes and improvements to the standard are initiated by manufacturers and any implementation is managed by the DMR Association.

DMR trend

The recent actions of two major manufacturers are a good indicator of the trend toward DMR.

Kenwood, who were early supporters of the dPMR standard, have now added DMR products to their portfolio.

Entel, another big player in the Two Way Radio field, now seem to have abandoned their development of dPMR products prior to release, in favour of following the DMR trend.
Will others follow the lead of these companies?

All of this can only be good news for consumers. Multiple suppliers ensures more choice and availability plus reliable long term availability options.
Product capabilities and features will inevitably continue to improve, with market competition keeping prices down.

DMR Benefits

DMR digital two way radio users have a number of benefits when compared to traditional analogue Two Way Radio…

  • Superior audio performance
    The audio quality outperforms analogue communications, with quality in high noise environments being outstanding.
  • Double the capacity of existing systems
    Replacing existing radios with DMR equipment allows two conversations on a single channel.
  • Increase in effective range
    “Noisy signals” experienced at the edge of radio coverage just don’t happen. With Digital, messages are loud and clear until the signal disappears.
  • Backwards compatability with analogue systems
    Most DMR Radios can also be programmed as analogue, or a mixture of both digital and analogue. (This allows a gradual sytem upgrade path).
  • Efficient re-use of existing infrastructure equipment
    Existing talkthrough or multi channel base stations can be simply replaced without the need to re-engineer the expensive combining and filtering equipment.
  • Extended battery life
    Because DMR radios only actually transmit for half the time, savings of 40% on battery life is possible.
  • Data facilities
    There are many third party suppliers writing applications to use the data capabilities of Digital Two Way Radios. Applications include; messaging, alerting, tracking, and telemetry.
  • Ever increasing numbers of enhanced features
    Manufacturers are constantly improving existing facilities and features and adding even more.

The DMR standard

The ETSI DMR standard is an “open standard” and should ensure compatibility between different manufacturers.
The DMR standard consists of 3 “tiers”.

Tier I governs low power, licence free equipment.

Tier II relates to “conventional” licenced equipment.

Tier III regulates sophisticated, high capacity, multi-user, trunked radio systems.

Businesses will most commonly use Tier II, conventional.
There should be no problem mixing different makes of equipment.
However, some manufacturers such as Motorola, Hytera and Sepura have cleverly extended the scope of Tier II and developed their own proprietary trunking capabilities. (Note that this is NOT Tier III compliant trunking).
Trunking is commonly used to simplify a multi channel system which is “shared” by multiple users.
These extended tier II trunking features are NOT inter-operable between manufacturers and you should keep this in mind when buying such a system or adding units to an existing one. You could well tie yourself to a single supplier, which defeats the aims of the ETSI standard.

Some of this information can be daunting or confusing to end users.
If you’d like to talk further about the possibility of upgrading your system or purchasing a

digital two way radio system from scratch, just contact us…


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