When it comes to using two-way radio technology, one of the first things people want to know is, “which is better, analog or digital?” Analog two-way radios have been an important tool for industries like education, construction, manufacturing, and facilities management since the Great Depression. However, more and more companies are transitioning over to digital technology.

But just exactly is the difference between an analog signal and a digital signal? Here is a good article describing the differences between digital and analog two-way radios. The quick summary definition of both is:

  • Analog: Analog signals are continuous or often called “sinusoidal.” All analog systems these days use a continuous wave with the voice signal through frequency modulation (FM). Engineers long-ago figured out how to hard wire this system into a single chip, bringing the cost of production analog two-way radios incredibly affordable. The analog signal is still used in many systems today, but more and more it is being replaced with reliable digital signals.
  • Digital: Digital signals are represented by binary numbers: 0 or 1 where these values can define different discrete voltage values. Any signal that doesn’t quite fit into the scheme is rounded off creating error correction signaling and control bits directly into each packet transmitted. A packet contains an assembly of bits, and algorithmic software makes it possible to understand the differences between voice and background noise, making a clearer and less distorted sound.

What are some advantages of digital?

  • More simultaneous talking paths are possible
  • Better user experience with enhanced features as GPS, emergency features, and even text messaging
  • Lower bandwidth consumption, translates into better battery life
  • Improved flexibility by being able to allow multiple talk groups on a single repeater system
  • Better signal strength and sound clarity through the use of “bit” technology.

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