HD Voice, the technology that delivers extreme audio clarity, is playing an important role in communications today as clear, reliable voice calls become a vital demand for both business and personal users.
Recent research points to significant growth over the next 3 years in HD Voice as Tier 1 service providers increase their offerings for business, residential and wireless customers in markets including Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East.
To find out more about HD Voice and the overall market, I recently caught up with James Bohac, director of product marketing at Audience (News - Alert), Inc.
Our exchange follows.
Can you talk a little about HD Voice and the main difference between regular/standard voice calls?
HD Voice technology provides richer, more natural-sounding voice communication because it allows more of the voice spectrum to be transmitted than in traditional telephony. In standard voice calls with typical cell phones, the voice spectrum is essentially cut in half to 4 KHz to meet the bandwidth limit required for wireless transmission of voice. As network bandwidth has increased; e.g. LTE networks, more bandwidth is available to transmit HD Voice quality or more natural sounding voice. Because VoIP calls are typically made over broadband networks, VoIP calls have started with HD quality or wideband voice.
Has adoption and awareness in the U.S. increased for this technology as the focus on quality phone interactions grows?
Increased usage of VoIP and related services over wideband, such as Video Calling (Facetime, QIK Video Chat, etc.) will make users more aware of the differences in voice quality between the high quality offered in VoIP and video calls, and the experience they have with standard mobile voice calls. Additionally, with the introduction of their LTE network, Verizon (News - Alert) is launching HD Voice as part of their VoLTE service. As announced at MWC 2011: "The way VoLTE works is that it sends voice calls over the data network, but unlike choppy Skype (News - Alert)-style VoIP calls, the voice function is integrated into the whole LTE system on the Verizon Wireless network, with assurances of high-quality service and priority over any non-voice traffic. At Mobile World Congress (News - Alert), Verizon VP of Product Development, Marjorie Hsu, said that the VoLTE call will have high-definition sound quality voice with very rich sounding conversation."
As these services roll out – more awareness of HD voice quality will become apparent to users in the U.S.
In addition to a clearer voice call, what are some of the other key points to note for “HD Voice” technology?
The significant points in the roll-out of HD Voice to consider are two-fold:
With HD Voice technology, both the voice conversation and the surrounding background noise will become more pronounced. So as the voice becomes clearer, background noise will also be more apparent and intrusive.
As users switch back and forth between standard calls and HD Voice calls, they will begin to notice a difference in call quality. They will not intuitively know why this change in call quality is occurring.Audience provides a solution for these two issues. Regarding issue #1, Audience's earSmart eS310 voice processor provides background noise suppression to ensure clear calls in any environment, allowing users to gain the advantage of HD Voice calling anywhere. For issue #2, Audience earSmart chips offer Audience Hi-Fi Voice, which uses a unique technique to expand incoming standard (narrowband) voice calls into a wideband, near HD voice calling experience. Thus, users will not experience such a marked difference in listening experience when switching from narrowband, 2G or 3G network calls, to a new HD Voice wideband network call.
What are some of the benefits for business users, does call quality really have an impact on productivity levels?
Audience has conducted market research that indicates that call quality has a direct benefit and impact on productivity levels. Our focus group research shows that the ability to have clearer calls, with background noise suppressed, will allow business users to use their phone more of the time, to make and take calls without worrying about surrounding noise.
Audience earSmart technology specifically will allow business users to:
-be more accessible; take and make critical calls in a timely manner, wherever they may be
- be more efficient; have the ability to complete business transactions in a single call without repeating or being misunderstoodWhen presented with the clear voice quality enabled by Audience's Voice Processor (News - Alert), business users rated this enhanced call quality as a must-have feature to enhance their business effectiveness.
Can you talk about the future of HD Voice technologies. What role will HD Voice play in the mobile space?
As mobile networks move toward offering broadband connectivity with LTE and HSDPA+, wideband HD voice services and applications will become the normal mode of communicating, as opposed to the current standard telephony services. Additionally, smartphones and tablet proliferation will increase the usage of VoIP services; in particular, video calling. As video calls are inherently wideband services, these will bring HD voice into the service mix. With the availability of wideband networks, voice and communications will be breaking out from the limitations of the existing wireless networks and will become the mainstream. Once the bandwidth is available and users experience HD voice, it will be like the change from Black and White TV to HDTV, users will demand the HD Voice service.
Stefania Viscusi is an assignment editor for TMCnet, covering voice and Voice over IP technologies. She also oversees production of TMCnet's e-Newsletters in the areas of Internet telephony and speech technology. To read more of Stefania's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell