2013–The HD Voice Happy New Year (maybe)

If the stats from this web site don’t lie, HD Voice should be on the upswing. 

The year 2012 saw nearly 7,945 returning visitors – up from 5,325 in 2011 and 4,814 in 2010; a conversion to percentage growth is left to the math heads reading this note.

Looking back upon the year, mobile HD voice service is well established in Europe and making significant growth in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.  The Americas, with the exception of Canada and the Dominican Republic, have been — shall we say – lacking.  You can find a concise discussion of mobile HD voice growth over the past year at TMC.net.

At this point, the story isn’t so much how many countries are getting HD voice, but how many countries have multiple carriers offering HD voice and carriers offering HD voice in multiple countries. 

Canada’s top five (5) wireless carriers offer HD voice today; that’s coverage of over 90 percent of the wireless users in the country. In France, 3 out of the 4 major wireless carriers offer HD voice and there are a number of other European countries – plus India and Korea — that have two or more carriers onboard.

Key indicators for more expansion in HD voice come in December from Nigeria and Thailand.  Airtel Nigeria is the second market for Bharti Airtel to get HD voice (the first being India in 2011). Telenor introduced HD voice to Thailand via its DTAC subsidiary; can the home country of Norway be far behind? We’ll see.

In the U.S., I’m still waiting on Verizon and Sprint to deliver HD voice.  Promised dates keep on slipping, with late 2013 being the latest mark for Verizon to start consumer trials of VoLTE in late 2013.  Sprint blew its “late in 2012” introduction of CDMA-based HD voice by a wide margin and may not introduce anything until 2013 or 2014.  T-Mobile USA might be the dark horse to roll out HD voice service in 2013, if reports are to be believed.

Broadband HD voice is still “out there” and there should be some spurring of service through a mobile demand-pull, along with glacial movement to IP Exchange (IPX) and SIP peering among carriers.   We’ll see more “islands” become linked together, but again I expect Europe and the rest of the world to be ahead of the curve.

Widespread deployment of HD voice in the cable world (i.e., Comcast) continues to be “Maybe next year” due to CPE compatibility issues and legacy equipment embedded in the core of the network.  There’s also the whole “business model” thing, but that didn’t stop the cable industry from dropping everything and getting into apps when tablets got hot overnight.

Next week at CES should be a better gauge as to what will happen with HD voice. Stay tuned.

= Doug Mohney

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