Every few months, the various D-STAR forums have someone come on and say that AMBE was a bad choice for D-STAR and that it should be replaced by CODEC2 or some other open source CODEC. Side note: AMBE is not a codec, its a vocoder.
Here is my latest response.
I don’t think anyone is saying that AMBE/D-STAR is the only way to do digital voice on Amateur Radio.I think what people that do the work, understand the system, and have been at this for awhile get tired of are just a few key points:
- Beating up D-STAR over the use of AMBE
- It’s just a part, like a microprocessor, DSP, etc.
- It is the best commercially available, off the shelf, component to provide digital human voice over the radio
- It’s price is reasonable (how it is packaged by some vendors for sale is pretty high for their BOM)
- It is used in other Amateur Radio products (AOR ARD digital voice, Alinco digital voice, NXDN, MotoTRBO, next generation P25) without the same vitriol.
People saying we can just modify D-STAR to use Codec-2 or some other Codec
- Those of us who work with interoperability and implementation standards understand the issues with making non-standard changes to a protocol.
- Standards are controlled through a process (that the JARL doesn’t execute well), which is where changes should be vetted, voted, and documented.
- We shouldn’t confuse consumers of a protocol by implementing something different and give it the same (or very similar) name.
- Introduction of incompatible systems into a working and established network or protocol framework creates unneeded issues.
People taking a narrow view of what the protocol means
- If you only look at Digital Voice you are leaving out much of the D-STAR protocol
- Not considering side effects
- Not understanding how one interconnects incompatible protocols (through the use of bridges, protocol gateways, etc.)
Market, social, investment, and cultural aspects
- Acknowledging that most operators want a self-contained radio whether a handheld, mobile, or base.
- Interconnect issues to external devices creating more points of failure
- Aesthetics – lost on the experimenter, but for the larger community there is value in an attractive package.
- They want to buy something off the shelf that is ready to use. (USTrust registration is problematic for this)
- People who have made investments in infrastructure (repeaters, gateways, etc.) don’t want them “broken” by non-compliant systems
- Some people like the clarity of AMBEs vocoder and don’t want it mixed with analog or even other systems that don’t fit the same profile.I, and I venture many others, look forward to additional digital voice and data options. Maybe something will come of Codec-2, maybe not. If it proves to be a better technical (not religious) solution and a manufacturer picks it up to create the self-contained radios to build out an entire network like D-STAR, great, the market will decide. I believe digital is the future and it will evolve, but basically I think the plea is basically, bluntly, “put up or shut up” — in other words, do the work to build something and put it out, in the meantime use what is available without this continued babble about how evil AMBE/D-STAR is and if “somebody” would just make “this change” it would be so much …Let’s use the D-STAR and related forums and groups to work on D-STAR. If one wants to do something different create your own community/forum/group and have at it.