HD Comm '09 – Summary of the Summary – It's the HD Voice ecosystem

Many of the presentations at the HD Communications Summit last week boiled down to one thing – It’s all about the ecosystem for HD Voice, not just piece parts or codecs.

In a summary of last week’s proceedings, Jack MacLeod, a Principal Vice President at CTO at Bechtel had “ecosystem” highlighted on many of his PowerPoint slides.  Participants said that “a full and effective ecosystem is essential for success” and a “full ecosystem of industry partners” was needed.  For all the talking around codecs and the need for more, fewer, or individual tailored codcs to wireline and mobile usage,  there was consistent agreement that making HD work was more than “just a codec” issue, but involved handset hardware and interoperability/peering agreements. Speakers also called for a more formal forum for promotion and coordination of HD Voice.

Business models also consumed a good deal of discussion.  According to some, HD Voice has been viewed by carriers as a means to keep customers rather than a revenue-generating service.  Will customers pay more for HD? The jury seems to be out, since HD applications have to drive recognition and awareness of the improved quality to HD voice sessions.  When customers hear HD, there’s a significant “Wow” factor and they get it, but unlike the era of HDTV, people will have to experience the technology one phone call at a time.

In the business market, VARs must by into and sell HD; education of the VAR communication is “essential for success” since most businesses buy a phone sytem and expect to get 7 to 10 years of use out of it.  HD Voice “must be a part of the sale on the front end” — something that happening with little frequency today.

When will carriers make the move to HD in North America? Competitive pressure was predicted to be the driver, with a major carrier feeling a challenge in the marketplace to its position as the trigger. Without competitive pressure, the market for HD isn’t going to move.

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