When I was at USTELECOM's "Voice Innovation Summit" a couple of weeks ago, a number of participants were way out in left field as to how HD voice works. Here's a short list of what people thought and what is actually happening.
Myth No. 1: Nobody's doing HD voice today
Major carriers such as BT, France Telecom/Orange (News - Alert), and Telstra all have enterprise and business customers using broadband HD voice services. BT has around two million broadband HUB customers with HD, and FT has about 500,000 when it reported consumer HD voice numbers over a year ago.
In the United States, Verizon Business will support HD voice for its customers via its VIPER VoIP service; the company has not officially blessed G.722 yet, but it expected to by the end of the year. Cincinnati Bell is supporting HD voice via a hosted service; XO is going to do so in the first quarter of 2011. And, 8x8 (News - Alert) and numerous independent ITSPs offer HD voice for businesses today. On the consumer side, Ooma supports HD voice in its "island" of users.
In the mobile world, there are at least 10 AMR-WB networks up and running.
Myth No. 2: We need more standards/technology to do HD voice
G.722 is the broadband codec standard for HD voice and it can be found everywhere from high-end Polycom phones to cheap non-name IP phones in the business broadband world. On the mobile side, AMR-WB (G.722.2) is the way the world is going.
Moving beyond codecs, everything else is all SIP and VoIP and SBCs, so anyone who can do VoIP today -- hosted, softclient, PBX, whatever -- can do HD voice today.
Myth No. 3: There's no CPE for HD voice available
Within the IP phone community, start at Avaya and Aastra and Cisco and work your way down to Panasonic (News - Alert) and Snom . It's been that way for over a year and you have to work really, really hard to find an IP phone that does not support G.722.
For consumer CPE, you've got the Ooma phone, Siemens Gigaset, Thomson (News - Alert) and several other manufacturers who have white-labeled HD voice gear for service providers. NETGEAR has one box out in trials in Asia and Europe and will likely make some big HD voice announcements next month at CES in Las Vegas.
Mobile handsets that support HD voice? HTC, LG, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson all have at least one HD voice capable mobile handset out; Nokia and Sony Ericsson have multiples. Expect a boatload more out of CES, including at least one major manufacturer declaring all its new phones as "HD voice capable."
Myth No. 4: You can't do HD voice on a consumer cordless phone
A number of manufacturers are supporting HD voice over DECT and the CAT-iq standard defines how to do G.722 (HD voice) over DECT. Siemens Gigaset has several models to choose from. Ooma's Telo handset also does HD voice over DECT.
Myth No. 5: HD voice is technically complicated
The only problem with implementing HD voice on a large scale, mass-market basis has to do with Layers 8 and 9 in the network -- money and politics. AT&T (News - Alert) and other tier 1 carriers already have built and have tested a carrier-grade infrastructure to move around SIP traffic for HD voice (and video) calls, but legacy worries about settlements and intercarrier compensation have everyone hedging their bets rather than simply exchanging traffic --an arrangement which has enterprises looking at SIP peering directly and advocates within the SIP/IP communications community more than a little annoyed, since the hold-up is the biggest single stumbling block to making HD voice and high-end videoconferencing as simply as dialing a number for a connection.
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 Tammy Wolf