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Digital Radios Vs Analog Radios

Digital Radios vs. Analog Radios: What’s the Difference? (Wireless Communications Explained Podcast)

In this episode of the Wireless Communications Explained Podcast, Bob White, Systems Engineer at EMCI Wireless and Mike Humphress, President of Commsult Consulting Solutions will share their thoughts on digital radios vs. analog radios. 

Watch The Podcast Video

Bob White has been around communications since 1978 in the United States Air Force. After six years in the Air Force and digital communications, he joined Motorola in 1984 and has been there on and off for about 26 years. After that, he was a consultant for ten years, and then he joined EMCI Wireless in January of 2021.

With 30 years of experience in direct sales, sales management, marketing, business development, and distribution management, Mike Humphress is a recognized innovator in the wireless industry. His employment with Motorola included the positions of Sales Representative, Regional Sales Manager, and Area Business Manager. In addition, he has spent six years in two Motorola dealerships in the capacity of Vice President and General Manager.

Listen to the full episode of the Wireless Communications Explained Podcast to learn about:

  • Comparing analog and digital during natural disasters
  • Converting from analog radios to digital radios
  • Encrypting voice and digital signals
  • Making the shift to digital can be unsettling to long time analog users
  • Moving hospital into the digital era
  • Retrofitting older buildings

Bob White, Systems Engineer at EMCI Wireless provided insight on the difference between the capacity and the bandwidth:

“We’re kind of Motorola centric at EMCI, being a Motorola partner, but there are some very high-end radios, public safety radios, commercial radios that can work, not only on the radio system, but also they work on Wi-Fi and LTE and have the ability to do the–an integrated solution if you will. One unit will do all of that. So it gives you better access to not only push-to-talk radio, which is a traditional two-way communication on a radio, it gives you high-speed video camera access, high-speed data applications.” 

“And they now can run Android apps like a cell phone or a smartphone. So all of that stuff is opened up with the higher speed. That’s always been the drawback of traditional LMR (land mobile radio) systems is that the data applications had to be small. They didn’t have a lot of bandwidth, but now with the Motorola radios, they’ve created the ability to connect them to LTE, a public LTE, or a private LTE, and use that for their communication.”

Mike Humphress, President of Commsult Consulting Solutions also shared his thoughts on the FCC supporting digital instead of analog radios:

“Spectrum’s a natural resource, and it’s a finite natural resource. And it’s only through technology that you can continue to squeeze more capacity out of that finite resource. So the commission is always interested in finding more efficient uses for the spectrum–better ways to deliver that particular natural resource to the users out there, and everything is wireless now. So there is even more and more clamoring for this highway, if you will, that all this stuff has to travel on. So I think that, without a doubt, their primary directive may be secondary to making money. Still, I think their primary directive is the efficient use of that particular resource.”

Lightly Edited Transcript

Joshua Feinberg: Welcome to Wireless Communications Explained. In this podcast episode, I’m joined by Mike Humphress, president of Commsult Consulting Solutions, and Bob White, a systems engineer at EMCI Wireless. Mike and Bob, welcome to the podcast. 

Mike Humphress: Thanks, Joshua. 

Bob White: Hey, Josh. Hey, Mike.

Joshua Feinberg: Hey, Bob. So to get started, Bob, could you give our audience a little bit of context on your background and how you ended up in your current role at EMCI Wireless? 

Bob White: Sure. I’ve been around communications since 1978 in the United States Air Force. After six years in the Air Force and digital communications, I joined Motorola in 1984, and I’ve been there for on and off, I believe about 26 years. And then, I was a consultant for ten years, and then I joined EMCI Wireless in January of 2021. 

Joshua Feinberg: Wow. So you’ve had experience both in the military and corporate and in all different facets, and all different sizes of environments. I’m sure that comes in very handy in understanding the topic that we’re going to be talking about today, which is everything you wanted to know about digital radios compared to analog radios and the big differences between the two technologies. And with that in mind, let’s just kick it off and get into the basics of this. What is the big difference between digital radios and analog radios? 

Comparing Analog Radios to Digital Radios

Bob White: The biggest difference right now, to put it in simple terms, is analog is old, and digital is new. Everything is moving towards digital. The analog radios are, I guess, your grandfather’s radios, if you will, from the 1920s. And they’ve been replaced with digital radios, digital technology. I guess, without getting down into the nuts and bolts, a digital radio transmits using ones and zeros, if you will, and an analog radio looks more like a voice or a sine wave, and that’s how it communicates over the air. But digital radios have evolved over the last 10 to 12 years to incorporate higher speed data, push-to-talk, and voice communications along with data applications that can be used because the radio is digital. 

Joshua Feinberg: So at a high level, someone from a generalist IT background instinctively thinks digital is ones and zeros, and radios look like a sine wave is pretty spot on with their intuition? 

Bob White: I think somebody with an IT background and digital, I mean, digital has been around for a long time — even when you consider radio technology and telephone technology, it’s all analog and then is converted to digital; it has been converted to digital for years to transmit it across the telephone lines and the air. But the main difference is that for digital radio, it’s not only the way the radio is transmitted, but it’s also the way the radio handles the communications and the features that run in the radio and across the air. There’s a lot of noise cancellation. The audio is much crisper and clearer. It allows you to also run the applications on there that would allow for push-to-talk and text messaging, GPS location, and all the things that it does now in the current versions of digital radios. 

Joshua Feinberg: When I think of another IT parallel, one thing that comes to mind is — remember dial-up modems and the technology there. After a while, there came the point in time, probably around 2005, maybe the early 2000s, where it would be really big in the late ’90s and early 2000s; they had the AOL movie, the You’ve Got Mail movie, and everyone knew that kind of the screeching sound. And then, all of a sudden, it went away. Is it kind of that shift? Have we gotten to the point where it seems like at some point the analog radios are just going to disappear and become obsolete, or are there still some special mission-critical applications that you’re just not going to be able to replace with what you can get with analog radios anytime soon? 

Bob White: You start talking about modems and AOL those types of things, and it brings back memories. That was my main job working for Motorola with the data communications, and it was mainly dial-up modems for credit card verification transactions. We would take high-speed applications and our customers and transmit them across phone lines in these large multiplexers. But it’s going to be very similar to that. I mean, you don’t hear dial-up modems very often. They do still exist, but it’ll be very similar to … Everybody has Wi-Fi, wireless, LTE, those types of applications, they’ll replace the analog modem eventually. There’s a lot of stuff that’s deployed already that’s still out there. The industry estimates that about 60% of the communication is digital, and 40% still exists as analog. It will take a while to get that all converted to digital, but it still exists out there. 

Mike Humphress: I think the other thing though that you’ve got to keep in mind is that when people buy these systems, a lot of the time they’re buying just the beneficial use of the product, and they don’t care or know — they don’t have the answer to that question, so what? Why would I bother making that shift, even though technologically we know what’s happened in the background? You’ve got a lot of people out there that have been using analog radios for years and years and years. In fact, they’ve become so used to the way analog radios sound, the way they function–Bob and I were talking earlier about the fact that, when you sold a radio system years ago, your customers actually got used to the fade area, the area where the signal degraded a little bit more and a little bit more, the further you got away from the transmitter. And they knew how to negotiate and navigate that fade area, even though the audio quality wasn’t very good and digital is different in the way it’s handled. And it’s a little bit unsettling at first when you make that shift, and a lot of people are still used to and still happy with their analog radios. I mean, would you not think that’s kind of the case, Bob? 

Bob White: Yeah. I think that is Mike. I think the shift to digital is the voice sounds different, but as you’re talking on the radio, you can recognize the person on the other end with digital radio. Some people will complain that you can’t recognize them as more digitized, as more mechanical sounding, but you can recognize them on the other end. That’s the thing, you give up maybe a little bit there, knowing when you’re going to have that fade, but your digital radio traditionally does transmit farther, through buildings better; you do get better coverage with the digital radio system, even though when you get on the fringes, the voice will digitize for a little bit. Then it just flat out goes away, kind of like the pixilation on your TV when you get a rain fade on your satellite dish. It’ll start to go. And then eventually it just goes all together, but that’s kind of maybe, I don’t know, a difference. Digital, you’ve got communications, and it’s good, and it’s clear, and it’s crisp, but you don’t have that analog fade, if you will. 

Joshua Feinberg: That 40% number fascinates me because it seems relatively high for a technology that probably has been trying to sunset for quite some time. Suppose I think about like in the smartphone world. In that case, if Apple or Google wants to twist the arm of people to retire old hardware, all they have to do is make it, so the next version of Android or iOS makes it difficult to use on that hardware, dido for Apple on the desktop or Microsoft in the Wintel world. So there’s got to be some compelling applications that are keeping it there, and probably not a lot of pressure to, either in the industry or from Motorola’s side, for the technology to go, analog technology to go away anytime soon. 

Mike Humphress: Well, our industry is not without arm twisting, right? Narrow banding probably is the greatest example of arm twisting that is out there. When you think Bob, that when you had to make the shift into a narrow banded radio, you could do that with analog. Still, a lot of radios had to be converted into something that would be more applicable to FCC standards and would work within their parameters. And at that particular point in time, many people went ahead and shifted to digital, but there were narrow banded radios out there and still are in analog that work. But I think we had a little arm twisting, and I think the other arm twisting comes in feature sets and capabilities. I don’t know what your take on that is, Bob, but at least that’s kind of the, from my point of view, that’s kind of what we’ve done industry-wide. 

Bob White: I think what you’ll see is, they’ve had several deadlines for conversion. I mean, they had huge public safety re-banding efforts. Those deadlines got changed several times. They’ve had to make the shift to, was it HDTV, that took a while. They had to change the deadlines on those because you couldn’t just shut everybody’s TV off across the country. I mean, many people don’t live in big cities like us that rely on some of that analog, old analog stuff that’s out there. But I think that’s the thing is there will always be … I mean, there are ham radio operators. There are other people that it’s just not something they’re going to if it’s still working for them. They don’t see a compelling reason to spend money and change to digital radio. I think you’d be surprised; you’d be amazed at how many what we call repeaters that sit on mountain tops, sit on top of buildings, sit in little shacks that still communicate in an analog mode that are out there that have not been identified and not been replaced, or it can’t be replaced because the customers in that area are still using analog radios. But that’s a pretty high number, but it’s not like you can just shut them off and shut off all your customers, especially when you’re the federal government that’s doing it. 

Joshua Feinberg: That got me thinking, too, of what’s the FCC’s position on all of this? Do they generally go with the consensus, or do they have a strong feeling one way or the other supporting digital instead of analog radios, or does it vary by the administration? 

Bob White: I don’t know the answer to that, Josh.

Mike Humphress: Actually, it’s all about the efficient use of the spectrum. That’s their primary, number one–it’s a revenue source now, right? And they auction off frequencies. They make millions and millions and millions of dollars, and there’s always a constant fight going on. Spectrum’s a natural resource, and it’s a finite natural resource. And it’s only through technology that you can continue to squeeze more capacity out of that finite resource. So the commission is always interested in finding more efficient uses for the spectrum–better ways to deliver that particular natural resource to the users out there, and everything is wireless now. So there is even more and more clamoring for this highway, if you will, that all this stuff has to travel on. So I think that, without a doubt, their primary directive may be secondary to making money. Still, I think their primary directive is the efficient use of that particular resource. 

Joshua Feinberg: As you mentioned, it’s often the applications driving usage when it comes to digital radios. Do you see that as the biggest advantage that digital radios have over analog today? Is that the biggest problem that digital radios are solving, that they’re introducing all these new applications? 

Mike Humphress: I think so. I think, and again, Bob and I had this conversation. Bob, I’ll let you chime in on the difference between the capacity and the bandwidth standpoint. It changed the game for the actual end-users of the product to do many different things that they couldn’t do before. And I’ll let Bob get a little more technical on that. 

Bob White: Just a couple of examples of–we’re kind of Motorola centric at EMCI, being a Motorola partner, but there are some very high-end radios, public safety radios, commercial radios that can work, not only on the radio system, but also they work on Wi-Fi and LTE and have the ability to do the–an integrated solution if you will. One unit will do all of that. So it gives you better access to not only push-to-talk radio, which is a traditional two-way communication on a radio, it gives you high-speed video camera access, high-speed data applications. And they now can run Android apps like a cell phone or a smartphone. So all of that stuff is opened up with the higher speed. That’s always been the drawback of traditional LMR (land mobile radio) systems is that the data applications had to be small. They didn’t have a lot of bandwidth, but now with the Motorola radios, they’ve created the ability to connect them to LTE, a public LTE, or a private LTE, and use that for their communication. 

Biggest Advantage of Digital Radio

Joshua Feinberg: So from this standpoint, there are many different kinds of roles, many different kinds of verticals, and applications for wireless radios. What’s the primary driver for a security concerned IT manager maybe that’s in a regulated space from the standpoint of someone that’s especially security concerned? What’s the big advantage that digital is going to provide over analog, or is there an advantage? 

Bob White: I would say probably the only one I could come up with, Josh, is that encrypted communications are becoming more and more prevalent. They are encrypting the voice so that it can’t be captured over the air or on the internet, or if it’s IP-based, it’s going to go across the internet somewhere, but they can encrypt the digital signal much easier without the delay. There used to be a lot of delays when you encrypt, and it would also affect the quality of the voice. Still, the encryption schemes nowadays are much better with digital radios than they ever were with analog radios. That’s the main difference that I can see security-wise. But an IT manager is worried about the radio system and worried about the data coming from the radio system into his system, his IT corporate backbone if you will. So once it’s encrypted, it’s encrypted at the radio on either end; the device on either end is encrypted. So once it’s in the IT system, you can’t decrypt it until you get it out the other end on the other device. That’s the only thing I can think of would be maybe an IT manager. And what we see a lot of times is, as the radio systems have evolved, as the IT manager a lot of times is the person that inherits the radio system, because it has an IP address and so, the traditional radio shops are not what they used to be since now they’re digital; they have an IP address, they’ll be taken over by the IT department. 

Mike Humphress: And that’s a fact, as far as who the point of contact is with customers and everything else, it is now the IT director or the IT manager, the CIO, or CTO. They’re intimately involved in all things that work traditionally; maybe operations, maybe they were facilities maintenance or security that were your points of contact. And now, because of all of this integrated technology that all interfaces with IT, the individual is the driving force behind the decisions and understanding what happens. And I think that because of the digital migration and the change to digital, that’s one of the shifts that took place overall. 

Joshua Feinberg: So, I’m thinking this is like the person who’s losing sleep over — is the VPN investment that we have good enough, is the public key cryptography keeping up with the bad guys, is the SSL … all these things that they’re constantly worried about with having their checks and balances in place with cybersecurity. So, it sounds like similar concerns as you move to IP-based radios. 

Mike Humphress: Sure. 

Digital Radios vs. Analog Radios Following Natural Disasters

Joshua Feinberg: The next area I want to talk briefly about is how digital and analog radios compare for someone following a natural disaster. We’re recording this at the early end of the Atlantic hurricane season. So a natural thing that someone would be wondering is, is there any advantage to staying with analog instead of migrating to digital or vice versa for different kinds of applications that would use wireless when there are large areas that are losing power or losing telecommunications lines? 

Bob White: Josh, I would say that it’s a more reliable choice since the digital technology is newer. It has a better chance of working during the disaster or following the disaster. A lot of the radio operators or system operators will, what we call in the industry, harden their sites, which means that they have a backup generator that will keep that thing on the air for a number of hours or even numbers of days. And a lot of those sites have wind speed-rated antennas, and the towers are more solid, especially here in Florida. They’re more structurally sound than some other operations might use. You might have someone who has an old analog repeater out in the middle of a cornfield or something, or that’s up on the top of a water tower that may not be as hardened, and that’s going to go away when it loses power. But mainly, the digital would be the choice I would use and prefer during a disaster. I remember being here in Florida during the three hurricanes back to back to back, and everything went down but the digital radio system that I was working on. That stayed on the air the entire time. And it did not suffer any outage.  At the public safety sites, we still do provide mainly the digital repeaters, but sometimes there will be an analog repeater like I’d mentioned earlier; we still put a lot of those analog radio channels into the radio so you can communicate if for some reason you lose the digital system. You might be able to get out on the analog, but we’re going to pay the most attention to keeping the digital channels on the air. 

Joshua Feinberg: For installation, that’s concerned with continuity and resiliency following a natural disaster, I know coming from the mission-critical data center world, it’s common practice that they’ll use a battery backup as a supplement for that short period of time between when there’s an outage and when the generator is fired up, is there that same kind of concern when you’re putting together wireless systems? Are there usually batteries that are providing kind of that instant power before the generator takes over? 

Bob White: Yeah. That generally is how they provide the backup power–you run on your commercial power, backed up by batteries first. And then, in the interim, the batteries keep the system up on the air, and then the generator will kick in. Then, most counties or public safety, and even commercial, will have contracts with the local propane or diesel fuel provider. They’ve got contracts to keep those sites on the air. So they’ve got priority on fuel delivery and stuff like that. 

Law Enforcement Use of Analog Radios vs. Digital Radios

Joshua Feinberg: One of the other questions that I have is I know EMCI Wireless does a lot of work with law enforcement. And one of the situations that sadly has become way too common in the last several years is active shooter situations. Would someone from law enforcement generally prefer in a situation like that to be working on analog radios or digital radios in that kind of crisis?

Bob White: I think the answer to that is that they would want to have the clearest, most reliable communications between the commanding officer and the sniper or the person that might be ready to take the shot, to take out the perpetrator. There’s a big difference between the conversation or what you hear between shoot and don’t shoot. If a syllable gets cut off or a word gets cut off, it means something completely different. And it means a matter of life and death to somebody. And, it’s going to be much clearer, much crisper on a digital system. You wouldn’t have the interference, and you won’t have somebody cutting in. There wouldn’t be the crosstalk issue where somebody else would jump in and confuse the conversation. 

Mike Humphress: And they’re not going to pick up conversations on a scanner. They’re not going to be able to listen in necessarily; you’ve got more security, but I think the other thing is going back to some of the things that come along with digital, with the integration of all these different technologies is when an officer can go live feed into a video that’s in a school as an example, and watch what’s going on just from his mobile device or his mobile radio or whatever the case may be –that’s all been a benefit of digital. And that’s another life-saving scenario right there that points directly to the fact that the integration and the collaboration between the private system that may be in the school and the public safety system, and the ability for those two things to coordinate is a pretty critical function. 

Joshua Feinberg: I mean, it brings to mind the tragedy that happened in Parkland in 2018. There was a lot of talk in the days, weeks, and months following that the law enforcement had a lot of difficulties communicating using radios, that there were delays on the video feed that people had assumed weren’t there. And it seemed like in the year following that, I live about 45 minutes north of there in Palm Beach County, that there was a big interest in the schools and hardening perimeters. They’ve put a lot of resources into that. And then, sure enough, within a year later, the pandemic comes along. Do you see the general environment now where you see school districts wanting to upgrade that, or the Sheriff’s departments that support the school districts wanting to support that? Or is it the kind of thing that they were super interested in talking about it in the months and weeks following it, and now the technology has been moved more to the back burner because of more pressing issues? 

Mike Humphress: No. It is fully on the front burner and fully between public safety and the education market; those are probably the two most robust markets today. And for those very reasons, it is unfortunate, but you have to do more to provide safety to the students and staff in the schools. And, of course, it carries over to hospitals, healthcare, and other things, as well. But the light is still shining very brightly on that need. And there are millions and millions of dollars being spent regularly on upgrading systems, whether it’s the coverage inside the school itself, which Bob is very active in, I know, in helping with BDA-DAS systems, which are basically systems that allow for public safety to have full coverage in every corner of a building, and up to and including the video component, access control–all of those things are wildly important and wildly popular today, more so even after Parkland, because it’s grown even greater since then. 

Joshua Feinberg: I mean, you can go back to what happened in Connecticut eight or ten years before that. And what happened in Colorado decades before that. I grew up in the ’80s, and in addition to fire drills, we had air raids where we got under the desks in theory, because if there was a bomb strike that that was going to protect us all from-

Mike Humphress: Protect you from … 

Joshua Feinberg: Yeah. My kids are growing up in this era where they’re very all too familiar with the code red drills. So it’s definitely part of … another adaptation with all that. So shifting gears from the active shooter law enforcement applications over to hospitals, healthcare, that’s another area that’s faced incredible amounts of pressure to do more with less over the last year or two during the pandemic. How do the hospitals generally make these decisions regarding whether to use digital as opposed to analog radios? 

Hospital Use of Analog vs. Digital Radios

Bob White: What we’ve found so far, a lot of the hospitals, as you had said, they’re kind of behind the curve. A lot of hospitals still use pagers. I mean, they page the doctors, and they page the orderly. They use pager systems. So, what I see there is they need to move into the digital era if you will. I mean, they have a lot of their tablets, they’ve got their pagers, they’ve got their cell phones, they’ve got all those, but nothing is really integrated. They need an integrated communication system that works on the radio system and works on the Wi-Fi and on the LTE or the private LTE in that hospital. That’s always kind of a thing with hospitals–they usually need to talk within that big concrete building. So that’s where a lot of DAS-BDA types of devices are more user-friendly; I guess they work better with digital radios. They will work with analog radios. They will repeat the signals analog, but they need to move to digital to integrate all of the systems. And I think that we see some of that, but we don’t see that much. They need, at times, instant access, push-to-talk on the radio; they need to talk to somebody right now. And they do suffer. They’ve got big concrete buildings, and radios don’t work necessarily that great inside of there. With digital radio, you’ve got a better chance of talking in that building than you do with an analog. But they need communications in that hospital.

Joshua Feinberg: I know I’ve been working with many managed service providers over the years that do Wi-Fi installations. They’ve had many complications and challenges with just installing access points for the regular 802 kinds of technologies. And I imagine it’s the same kind of thing. Are hospitals incredibly unique because they’re using so much concrete? Are there other environments where that poses challenges, or are the hospitals truly unique like that? 

Bob White: It’s always challenging in a building that’s being retrofitted for a DAS-BDA system or Wi-Fi, LTE, whatever goes into that building, and those are your older buildings. I believe, now there are building regulations that if a building is of certain square footage and a certain size that has to be built in at the time that the building is constructed, but that’s the challenge–once an older hospital needs to do this or to retrofit it, it’s a lot of work, and it’s a lot of expense. Pulling the cables down those hallways and through the hospitals, there are many regulations; you can’t just go prop a ladder up in the middle of the floor and pull a cable through the ceiling. There are just a lot of regulations that you’ve got to meet in hospitals, and there are many rules.

Joshua Feinberg: So, is that gradually how these upgrades are happening, as you see a hospital that doubles in capacity and builds a brand new building, and they’re out of the gate putting digital in there, or is there just so much interest in preserving their existing investment in analog that they’re still even slow to change with new construction? 

Bob White: I would say they’re probably slow to change because of the expense. Most of their money is probably being spent in the new wing of the hospital or the new hospital that is going up. So the retrofitting of it is a lot of expense to pull that cable through the building and install access points in that. That is most of the cost of installing a DAS-BDA system–installing the cable and access points. 

Hospitality and Entertainment Industries Moving to Digital Communications

Joshua Feinberg: One more industry application to talk about. We spend a lot of time on this podcast talking about hotels, hospitality, and entertainment. In the hospitality and entertainment space right now, what’s the default that most people are choosing? Are most people still preferring analog, or has there been a move to digital? 

Mike Humphress: That’s an interesting vertical because it’s so widely varied in terms of size and scope. You may have smaller hotels and properties at which analog radios are doing just fine. They’re budget-restricted, so many analog radios are much less expensive to buy and get into. I think it’s one of the harder vertical markets to convince people of the need for digital if they use an analog system that’s still working for them. And from a sales perspective, I think the greatest play has to do with the enhancements that come along with that in terms of the single device, being able to use apps that are very prevalent in the hospitality industry, and being able to use those on the same device that you have a push-to-talk radio operating on. The rest of the issues that are the differentiators between the two, other than maybe the extended battery life that you get with digital (so you get a little longer talk time than you would an analog without having to recharge), some of those things are nice-to-haves. I don’t know if they’re critical to have in that particular industry. So, I think the main play, from my perspective, is what digital brings in terms of additional feature sets and capabilities. 

Joshua Feinberg: The line of business applications?

Mike Humphress: Yeah. 

Joshua Feinberg: Final question. Where are we headed next? What does the future look like in this debate between digital and analog radios, thinking out over the next two or three years? 

Bob White: Well, from what I’ve read and studied, analog will be around for the next ten years. The FCC has extended it out at least another ten years to 2030, nine to 10 years. And there’s always going to be the low-cost user, the low-cost option, for some radios that are blister packs that you’re buying at Sam’s or Costco, and use those for what they call a family radio system. You may use them at the theme park or use them for hunting and things like that. And there’s always going to be an analog. There’s also a low-cost analog, and this can be possibly low-cost digital, as well. But they’ll always have it; analog will always be there. It’s not going to be very sophisticated. There’s not going to be radio repeaters on top of buildings that you’ll be able to use. It’ll mainly be a walkie-talkie point-to-point type of thing, but analog will all but go away at some point in time. You’ll have your radio enthusiasts, you’ll have your people that don’t want to give up their walkie-talkies, but analog as far as analog infrastructure, and that will be converted to digital. 

Mike Humphress: Let’s be honest, there are still a lot of people out there that lament the fact that their flip phone is no longer viable, that they don’t have their star tag anymore because “it was the best cell phone I ever had.” There will be people like that with analog radios, I’m sure.

Joshua Feinberg: Has any of this gotten caught up in the current conversations around just modernizing infrastructure as a whole and trying to get broadband out to rural areas, or are a lot of these discussions really not intertwined in that at all? 

Mike Humphress: I don’t see them as being intertwined all that much. How about you, Bob? 

Bob White: I don’t either, not that at this point. I think most of the infrastructure they’re talking about is getting Wi-Fi to the rural communities. I don’t see this being part of a radio system. I can’t see them installing infrastructure for radio systems. That’s part of the infrastructure we’re working on. 

Joshua Feinberg: It seems a flashpoint for a lot of that was getting broadband access for distance learning for kids being out of school during the pandemic. So, it’s super interesting. So, it sounds like we have the better part of the decade that analog will at least have some continued life and will continue to be fully supported in the wireless communications industry side-by-side with digital applications. It’ll make for interesting times. This has been super helpful. You’ve heard today from Mike Humphress from Commsult Consulting Solutions and Bob White from EMCI Wireless. Any other closing thoughts on the topic of comparing analog and digital radios? 

Mike Humphress: Not really, other than the fact that with communications being as critical as they are, organizations just choose one or the other. They’re still a very viable way to run a business and run an operation, and they’re still critically needed for a lot of different applications. So while digital may be the choice, and that is the better choice when buying new stuff, there’s still a place for both out there right now. 

Joshua Feinberg: That’s terrific. Thanks so much for sharing today. Thanks, Mike. Thanks, Bob. And I wish you all great success in continuing with your wireless installations. 

Mike Humphress: Thanks, Joshua. Appreciate it.