Orange has announced it is trialling HD voice in Bristol, Reading and Southampton with a variety of demographics catered for including small businesses and early technology adopters, as well as more mainstream users. The service is expected to roll-out across the UK by the end of summer.
Since Orange and T-Mobile are now one big network (though still currently offering services through the separate entities) it can be expected that T-Mobile will also be offering HD voice soon too.
HD Voice is all about making calls sound better and Orange are using a technology known as AMR-WB which stands for Adaptive Multi-Rate Wide Band. Mobile phones already use AMR for current voice calls. Really AMR is some clever compression technology that removes parts of the speech that humans don’t hear and does clever magic with the rest so that it can fit down the mobile pipes used in voice calls (which are much smaller than in mobile data). The newer AMR-WB uses more complex technology which requires more computing power to compress the speech, but modern phones have the computing power that allows this to be done.
Many VoIP players have had HD Voice capability for some time and have been using this as selling point against traditional telephone services which are limited in their voice quality capabilities due to the way their networks work and that the technology powering traditional voice system has been around for at least 50 years when computing power was at a premium so utilising complex compression processes wasn’t possible.
Traditional voice telephony supports audio in the range 300Hz to 3400Hz while the new HD Voice (AMR-WB) now supports 50Hz through 7000Hz which is over double the bandwidth.
Orange say the quality is so good is sounds like users are in the same room and will encourage users to leave voicemails and use more voice services.
ITSPA (the Internet Telephone Service Providers Association) is also trying to encourage more voice providers to offer HD Voice and is holding a HD Voice workshop on Wednesday.