Editorial: As goes Verizon Wireless, so does HD voice?

As Verizon Wireless (www.verizonwireless.com) showed off Voice over LTE (basically wireless VoIP done to nit-picky old-school telephony standards) at Mobile World Congress today, it threw in a kicker – HD voice.  VoLTE is rolling out on Verizon’s network in 2012, and when it does AMR-WB will be part and parcel of calls made when it arrives.

Before this week,Verizon Wireless had always been cool when it came to wideband, more concerned about getting VoLTE working than talking about the potential for HD with shiny new phones and all that LTE bandwidth.

Rolling out AMR-WB in 2012 should be a wake up call to AT&T and Sprint, but also to the other two divisions of Verizon.

AT&T – as the folks at Ericsson are quick to point out – could roll out AMR-WB on its 3G/4G/HSPA+ network almost literally tomorrow; just plug the software into the switches, get some handsets and light it up.  But AT&T is running behind Verizon when it comes to LTE and the company has a funny taste in its mouth from the iPhone.

Who knows what Sprint will do when it comes to wideband.  In theory, it could roll out an over-the-top client supporting either G.722 or AMR-WB on WiMAX tomorrow, but its still enjoying its warm fuzzies from the EVO rollout last year. I’m sure someone locked away in an office in Kansas has looked at it, but…

But then there’s the other two divisions of Verizon (and forgive me for oversimplifying): Verizon Business and FiOS.   Verizon Business has gamed out lots of fun things on how it can leverage HD voice for corporations and more effective call centers and all kinds of goodies.  But while VB is working on growing the B2B HD voice universe within its enterprise customer base, those enterprise customers needs a good B2C connection for everything from better conference calls to call centers.

See how VoLTE HD dovetails nicely with Verizon Business’s efforts on a multi-year build?

This leaves the FiOS crew dragging behind the pack trying to figure out HD voice while the cable companies are readying their trials for the second half of this year.

If Verizon Wireless is introducing a mobile HD voice service in 2012, why can’t FiOS introduce a broadband service in the same timeframe? It’s a question Verizon executives might start asking real soon…

– Doug

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