Earlier this week, Russia mobile carrier MegaFon announced it had turned up HD voice service on its 3G HSPA+ network in Siberia. It's the latest place on the globe to get mobile HD voice service while U.S. customers await Sprint's 3G CDMA HD voice rollout later this year.
For anyone who cares about mobile voice quality and cellular competition in the U.S., this is an epic fail for AT&T and T-Mobile (News - Alert) USA.
Who has HD voice service in the more exotic parts of the world? Going to the 2012 HD Voice News white paper "Proliferation" available at TMCNet, you can go through Africa and get service in Kenya, Mauritius and Reunion.
In Europe, France Telecom rolled out HD voice service in September 2009 – nearly three years ago. Since then, Armenia, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia have all received HD voice service. Less exotic locations such as France, the U.K. and Turkey all have two carriers offering HD voice.
Asia – typically a beautiful vacation area – has HD voice service in Hong Kong, India and Australia. Incumbent carrier Telstra (News - Alert) boasts the largest landmass coverage of HD voice in the world as it delivers HD voice via 3G HSPA, with plans to offer service on 4G when it turns up its LTE network.
Closer to home, you can find mobile HD voice service in the Dominican Republic. And Canada isn't that exotic or far away, yet the country has two carriers offering HD voice service. WIND Mobile launched last year while Bell Canada (News - Alert) started turning up coverage in January 2012, and appears to have completed its efforts across its territories.
In the U.S., Sprint is the only carrier pounding the drum for mobile HD voice. It will first roll out HD voice in late 2012 on its upgraded 3G CDMA network using Qualcomm's 1X Advanced technology. MetroPCS has vowed to roll out Voice over LTE (VoLTE) in the second half of 2012, but has yet to highlight the fact VoLTE comes with HD voice with the use of the AMR-WB codec.
Verizon (News - Alert) Wireless expects to have nationwide coverage with VoLTE in 2013.
One of the great mysteries among industry observers is why AT&T and T-Mobile USA haven't deployed HD voice service across their networks. According to Ericsson (News - Alert), HD voice would essentially be a software upgrade to existing HSPA network gear – the same kind of network gear running HD voice today in Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe.
The only answer I can give to those observers is that AT&T and T-Mobile USA just don't care. It's good enough to have HSPA phones that can operate in Europe, but there's no urgency in providing HD voice because there's no competition to drive improved services.
Edited by Braden Becker