Thursday, June 1, 2023

Global Digital Repeater Round Up: Our 1st Post COVID Analysis?

Each May and October going back to 2016, HVDN has analyzed data for digital amateur radio repeater deployments. 

Today being the 1st of June and now officially in the "End of COVID" era according to United States Center for Disease Control, lets have a look at the latest data to kick off summer time in many parts of the world. Lets celebrate with some pie of all digital flavors!

Yaesu Fusion - Still the 2nd most popular (by volume) digital repeater with an impressive 9.97% growth over the reporting period.  New radios like the FTM-300 and FTM-500 by the single manufacturer of Fusion equipment help drive reasons for more fusion repeaters around the world, with a total of 6 current production radios on the market. The least expensive Fusion capable radio is the FT-70 handheld for around $180 USD. 

Icom D-Star - The good news is that Kenwood has the TH-D75 handheld radio ready to go to market later this year and will support D-Stat much like its earlier relative, the TH-D74. However, Icom is still the only main supplier of D-Star handheld, mobile or base radios.  While the new Icom ID-50 handheld will also support D-Star, there are eight current or near production radios that support this digital mode and none of them cost under $200 USD.  Icom D-Star has remained flat for repeater deployments at 1.79% growth but its worth noting like all digital modes, the internet or a repeater is not needed for digital mode communications. 

DMR - How do we explain 12.46% period growth for DMR?  More radios offered by more vendors and full tier 2 compliant handheld radios sold for as low as $30 USD such as the COTRE series of radios found on Amazon.  While you do not need a repeater to use DMR or even the internet, the multi vendor ecosystem certainly is working for the adoption of DMR as the leading (by volume) driver of digital amateur repeaters.

P25 - Still a commercial standard and no inexpensive new radio equipment available, but digital repeater deployments are growing at 15.67% over the reporting period which shows promise.  As commercial users retire phase one P25 equipment, expect to see more digital repeaters be put on the air globally. If the license for the P25 was as loosely enforced like DMR, we could expect to see P25 really grow fast over the next few years unless the new open standard M17 finally gets into production grade equipment.

NXDN - Another commercial standard generally deployed for non-critical users, there continues to be some decent growth by CAGR and not by volume of this digital mode offered by companies like Icom, Kenwood and others.  There are still no very low cost radios available using NXDN, so expect this mode to just be a novelty in use across some pockets of amateur radio enthusiasts. 

Get a slice of : What did you say about M17?

The good news is that now shows a total of five total digital repeaters using this open source mode. Currently there are the following:

  • N1KGN - Located at Bridgeport Hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut (United States)
  • WX5RC - Located at Rogers State University in Claremore, Oklahoma (United States)
  • KC1AWV - Located in NHL Bruin's territory in Rockingham, New Hampshire (United States)
Its worth noting that two of these three repeaters are listed as multi-mode  and are not M17 full time. The only one likely as a dedicated M17 repeater is Steve KC1AWV's since he is part of the official M17 development team.

There are two international repeaters with the secret one in Poland in Nowy Dwor Mazoweicki operated by the inventor of M17, the infamous Woj SP5WWP and the multimode capable VK3RCQ repeater located in Junortoun Australia.

By October,  HVDN hopes to see a few more M17 repeaters on the air, but there are still no off the shelf M17 capable radios available for purchase which will continue to hold things back for M17.  

However, there are some exciting things happening in the M17 community which will be more clear in the next few months to come.  So, for now keep an eye on M17 but it will take a long time for this one to reach mainstream which is ok given there are no "current" commercial companies making available equipment to use M17. 

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