Editorial: Seven Octaves of Marketing Hype

During VoiceCon, I had an extended and somewhat painful discussion about HD voice with a representative of a company that shall remain nameless.  But they wear orange shirts and aren’t from Huntsville.

The briefing started off well enough, but the phrase “Our phones have been designed to carry seven octaves of sound” got dropped. Innocuously, I asked “Yes, but do you run G.722? Do you run wideband?”

“Well, we run G.711 and G.729, but I’m not sure about that particular codec.”

Do you hear the alarm bell that starts to go off here?

“OK, you do understand if you don’t run G.722, you aren’t moving around seven octaves of sound, right?”

“But I never have a problem hearing anyone. It’s always crystal clear sound. I never have problems talking to someone I might call at <generic airline service center> or in my monthly calls to <Analyst firm we pay>.”

“Yes, but do you understand that the minute you go narrowband, you don’t carry all that sound.”

“But I never have a problem with—“

And so it went for 10 to 15 minutes, getting beaten over the head with the same knee-jerk marketing lines as I tried to explain why people would want to talk to each other in HD voice rather than PSTN and getting various circular arguments back to how their customers love the sound of their phone system blah-blah-blah-blah.

By the end of the meeting, I was starting to channel Keri Ann Peniche coming off her latest crystal meth binge.

Instead, I felt the spirit of Dr. Drew calm me and decided to give this particular vendor another chance. I went over and asked some questions about the company’s latest product, then started asking about what wideband codecs the company supported.

“Well, I don’t really know, I know we support G.711, G.729, but I’m not really sure about G.722. The phones have been built to work with seven octaves of sound—“

The sad moral of this whole story is that the company’s products (hardware, software) does support G.722 and ergo HD voice/wideband, but that the whole “Seven octaves of sound” party line has been so thoroughly beaten into the heads of sales and marketing people.  Asking real world questions about the applicability of HD voice and HD voice interoperability just goes straight off into la-la land.

I suppose, from this company’s worldview, it’s OK to ignore what everyone else from Cisco to Polycom is talking about and roll back onto the whole seven octaves thing, rather than talk about interoperability. But ultimately customers are going to start asking about it and they are going to want to hear some intervendor harmony – not a repetitive solo.  

– Doug Mohney
HD Voice News

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