HD voice must be making advances if a columnist over at GigaOM can start pondering it. Unfortunately, the piece skims the surface of what's already been accomplished and doesn't get close as to what's in the pipeline for 2012 and beyond.
GigaOm Mobilize Editor Kevin C. Tofel says 3 UK, Telstra, Deutsche Telekom (News - Alert) and "other carriers around the world took mobile voice calling" to the next level in 2011 in his piece "What does HD Voice sound like on a mobile VoIP call?" I guess Kevin didn't get the memo that France Telecom and Ericsson have been doing the heavy lifting on mobile HD voice since 2009. Don't even get me started about how three is a latecomer to the party – especially in the UK.
Tofel finds some love for CounterPath's (News - Alert) Bria Android client and predicts when VoLTE starts appearing, mobile call quality (in the U.S.) will start improving. But he misses the boat that CounterPath's Bria SIP client speaks G.722 and SILK while VoLTE will roll with the de facto mobile HD voice standard of AMR-WB . How carriers will translate (i.e., transcode) between the two major HD voice codecs remains to be resolved, as does the issue of interconnecting HD voice calls between carriers. Neutral Tandem and others are working the interconnection issue, but there's not a clear path to seamless, ubiquitous HD voice calling either on the wireless or broadband networks.
Against this backdrop, Canada's second largest mobile carrier has quietly launched HD voice service on its HSPA+ network this week. Bell Mobility, along with its subsidiary Virgin Mobile (News - Alert) Canada, now joins WIND Mobile in offering mobile HD voice to the Great White North. Bell is only officially supporting a couple of HTC and Nokia (News - Alert) phones for HD voice calling, but it plans to add more handsets during the year.
Life will get more interesting later this year when Qualcomm's 1X Advanced CDMA technology reaches critical mass among some carriers, allowing them to flip the switch and introduce HD voice on CDMA networks. Carriers will be able to provide HD voice on 2G, 3G, and 4G networks, making HD voice available across mobile carriers. The only consternation is (once again) a codec issue, with AMR-WB prevalent across all GSM/HSPA/LTE (News - Alert) networks while EVRC-NW will be the HD voice codec on CDMA networks. And to complicate matters still further, some carriers will likely choose not to use the EVRC-NW codec for HD voice calling, instead reclaiming spectrum for data by using the codec's more efficient narrowband voice scheme.
By the end of the year, mobile HD voice will be on a tear throughout the wireless world. This opens up another question: Will mobile HD voice "pull through" the use and connection of HD voice technology in the broadband world? Mobile tablets are pulling through videoconferencing to expanded usage and new business models so it is possible mobile HD voice proliferation will stir the pot on the usage of HD voice in the broadband world.
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Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO. Follow us on Twitter.Doug Mohney is a contributing editor for TMCnet and a 20-year veteran of the ICT space. To read more of his articles, please visit columnist page.
Edited by Carrie Schmelkin