For 20 million dollars, the people who have to live in the City of Chicago just got ripped off, as did the EMS responders who became the guinea pigs for this system. The audio is overmodulated, and you can hear really severe digital pixelization in the voices. It's comparable to that moment when a digital TV freezes up, only the audio doesn't freeze, it just pixelizes and they sound like robots.
Read about the system here via CBS Chicago
Listen to the CFD Digital UHF feed here
Quote from CBS:
"The switchover from analog to digital radios began Sunday at 8 a.m., with EMS paramedics getting the new radios. Motorola got the no-bid contract in 2006, but tests of the digital system showed garbled transmissions and dead zones"
Public safety crews who have already experienced digital radio systems such as P25 and Opensky across the nation state that the radios are not reliable, and that the audio processor in these radios do not fare well in loud emergency environments such as fire and accident scenes.
The new Chicago Fire Department P25 system has encryption enabled for administrative and other sensitive radio transmissions. All other traffic is in the clear so far.
Shortwave America will be speaking with Larry Langford, the Chicago Fire Department Media Affairs Director, a former licensed amateur radio operator who says he is considering becoming licensed again. That talk will be on one of the Shortwave America shows coming soon.