Over the past month, BT Global Telecom has ramped up promotion of HD voice through several blog postings and UK interviews. The carrier is positioning itself as the place to go to exchange HD voice and other SIP services , but it is also waiving around an old idea on how to make money with voice services.
To little fanfare, BT demonstrated support for HD voice over its global IP Exchange (IPX) at the Pacific Telecoms Conference (PTC) in Hawaii in January. The company says it has over 60 carriers signed up for the exchange and offers multiple services through it, including pre-paid and SMS hubbing.
“Interoperability is critical to the HD voice opportunity,” a BT white paper released this month, is the big plug for HD voice. BT says its IPX supports global end-to-end HD voice services between operators across mobile, fixed, and internet platforms. Currently HD voice exchange is being offered for “free” (i.e., no extra charge), with transcoding between mobile and broadband services likely to be a future for-pay option.
BT makes the argument that it is the best solution to be a service provider’s “hub” for IP and HD voice traffic, a “specialist wholesale intermediary” to aggregate calls, open up new routes for HD services by providing cross-network connectivity, and offering “inter-codec conversion.”
A report commissioned by BT estimates global retail revenue from cross network HD voice services could reach $2.35 billion by 2015. The document says service providers need to consider introducing HD voice interoperability services to get themselves into the HD value chain, be it as an end-to-end service or in squeezing money out of over-the-top providers.
BT says mobile operators have an immediate opportunity to deliver and charge for “cross-network national and International HD calling” – in other words, to add a couple of extra pennies onto existing roaming and international charges. “….Business users will swiftly come to expect HD voice services – and demand them when they roam and make international calls.”
How well this will go over with customers will be interesting to watch, since HD voice service is already being delivered as a “free”/no-charge addition by carriers in both the mobile and broadband worlds.