Are the "Original Gangsters" of NGN missing the HD boat?

Without naming names, a number of all-IP service providers who have heartily embraced the Next Generation Network model seem to be blaise-faire on HD Communications and HD voice.  Are they doing so at their own risk?

A casual attitude to providing high-quality voice is all the more shocking given North America cable interest/intent to provide HD above and beyond the trailblazing that Cablevision is doing with its hosted business VoIP service, the signaling of Verizon Business that it will be rolling out an HD product next year, Global Crossing’s HD experiences, and a large scale movement by European carriers lead by France Telecom.

The response from the complacent runs something like this: “We’re serving the SMB market, HD has a long way to go in the consumer and business world, there aren’t handsets to support it…yadda-yadda.”

Meanwhile, numerous hosted business VoIP carriers such as Alteva are starting to sell HD and they’ve found that AudioCodes, Cisco, Polycom, Avaya, snom and Siemens are all shipping phones to support HD; Avaya supports G.722 across its line and Polycom will have full G.722 support in all of its phones by the end of the third quarter of this year (i.e. end of September).  So the whole “there isn’t handset support” issue is going out the door at a rapid clip as does the argument that businesses aren’t interested in HD.

NGN-based carriers who haven’t embraced HD might find themselves squeezed on two different fronts if they don’t wake up.  Verizon Business aims its services at the larger enterprise segment, but who wants to talk to large enterprises? Where will SMBs go to get their HD? Verizon has not been shy about “breaking down the silos” between business units and product lines, so it could easily “top down” an enterprise HD service into a SMB offering.

On the other front, the hungry business VoIP carriers have HD voice as a lever to cherry-pick the most lucrative smaller businesses of professional services — lawyers, financial firms, doctors.

Given the complexities of offering end-to-end HD services, NGN players might want to do more than wait until next year just to see what happens.

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