I’ve been covering the HD voice ecosystem since 2009. If you don’t believe me, there’s a set of reports over at TMC from 2011 to 2013 documenting all the things I’ve witnessed. Or simply Google “HD Voice News” and see what pops up.
Over the past five years, I’ve had the pleasure and honor of receiving briefings and email from France Telecom, Ericsson, Qualcomm, D2 Technologies, Qualcomm, and numerous players in the space. To be fair, I’ve also had some good discussions with Verizon’s subject matter expert on HD voice on the enterprise side.
Unlike the majority of media stories on HD voice, I’ve tried to offer critical coverage of the fits and starts of implementing higher quality voice on U.S. mobile networks, rather than simply regurgitating the latest press releases or parroting what’s been spoon feed to a publication because I’ve been slipped a couple of bucks for advertising.
(Ooma, we’ve had our issues. But I respect the way you guys got your act together).
About the only U.S. wireless carrier that wants to talk about HD voice to HD Voice News these days seems to be T-Mobile U.S. John Legere (or whomever is running his Twitter account) has favored or re-sent a couple of my tweets.
To be fair, those tweets have been critical of Sprint and its sudden renaissance of HD voice. And Sprint didn’t invite me, so I’m being a little whiny, but after 5 years of covering the space, I’m entitled.
If you bought an HTC EVO 4G LTE phone supporting HD voice almost 2 years ago (Friday, May 18), Sprint is now just getting around to turn up the service nationwide. Sooo… the phone is beat up and obsolete by now or will be by July because there’s dog years and there’s handset years and handset years are pretty brutal as we all know.
My open message to my new Twitter bestie @JohnLegere and @TMobile – I’m more than happy to be your HD voice subject matter expert. Don’t expect me to kiss your feet, but you should get a fair hearing since you guys rolled out HD voice at CES 2013 (without inviting me *cough*cough*).
There are questions that need to be addressed by all U.S. carriers moving forward. Seamless HD voice calling between carrier networks is the biggest one that I’d love to hear everyone talk about. An honest answer why AT&T and Verizon both delayed VoLTE rollouts would be nice.
I’m here, www.hdvoicenews.com. Moo@vegascommando.com.
- Doug Mohney
Zain Bahrain announced its launch of HD voice via Twitter today, March 31, 2014.
Calls are “free of charge” on its new network, according to the tweet. No other details were available, but presumably users to be “on net” and have an HD voice capable phone.
Zain has a commercial presence in 8 countries across the Middle East. No information if or when the company will be able to exchange HD voice calls with other carriers in the region. It is a 50 percent owner of Inwi in Morocco, so subsidiary call exchange is likely to happen soon.
The Global mobile Suppliers Association (www.gsacom.com) released its latest report on HD voice service deployments One hundred (100) operators worldwide have turned up HD voice in 71 countries.
The majority of turn-ups have been on HSPA networks, with 8 GSM and 3 VoLTE networks also in the mix.
Additions include Orange Mali, Orange Sonatel, TeliaSonera in Sweden, E Plus of Germany, Nawras (Oman), Inwi (Morocco) and Tele 2 (Sweden).
On March 25, 2014, Tele 2 announced it supports HD voice on its 3G network. Both its main brand and Comviq prepay mobile network.
Terms and support currently extend to the usual: No additional charge, must be an “on network” call with Tele 2, both parties must have a phone supporting HD voice.
Tele 2 says “most phones” sold since 2012 support HD voice, but users may need the latest software/firmware in some cases. “Popular” HD voice mobile phones featured by Tele 2 include the Apple iPhone 5S, Sony Xperia Z2, Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Nokia Lumina 1520.
It should be noted Tele 2 apparently joins TeliaSonera in turning up HD voice service in Sweden. Today’s (March 25) report out of the Global mobile Suppliers Association says TeleSonera turned up HD voice on its HSPA-based network on March 1, 2014.
Interconnection between HD voice carriers has always been something shrouded in secrecy. Being able to make a seamless HD voice call regardless of network is the “Holy Grail” of high quality calling.
One tweet suggests that calls between Play and T-Mobile Poland can be made in HD voice, but there’s no official announcement or confirmation that this is so.
Last week, Morocco joined the HD voice club. Inwi launched service around March 20 and supports HD voice on both its 2G and 3G+ networks.
The usual terms and conditions apply: No additional cost, must be an on-network call, both participants must have an HD voice capable phone.
Phones supporting HD voice via Inwi include a number of Samsung Phones, the Nokia Asha 302 and 311, Sony Xperia E, Blackberry Q10, and Nokia Lumina 920.
HD voice has proven to be popular throughout the Middle East, due in part to promotions through France Telecom subsidiaries.
Last week, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) engineering committee on analog and digital wireline terminals issued a call for interest for document ANSI/TIA-912-C, “Telecommunications – IP Telephony Equipment – Voice Gateway Transmission Requirements.”
The standard covers transmission requirements, with the revision adding requirements support for wideband analog phones (between 100 to 7,000 Hz) that may be connected to voice gateways for providing HD voice services via VoIP.
TIA says stakeholders may include manufacturers of enterprise and residential gateways, Integrated Access Devices (IADs) and Multimedia Terminal Adapters (MTAs); traditional public and private network service providers, packet-based network service providers, and ADSL and cable VoIP service providers.
The last stakeholder listed is amusing, since the cable industry has been gearing up to support HD voice for the past three to four years with more recent cable CPE gear more than capable of supporting wideband analog phones for at least the past year.
More information can be found at tiaonline.org.
Below is a top view of the Dolby Voice Conference Phone. The picture literally covered the wall of the BT/Dolby suite. key features to note are the blue “ring” indicating an active conversation/open line and the CD-sized touchscreen at the 6 O’clock position.
The shiny bar at the top of the touchscreen is a large tactile mute button. The center blue indicator ring changes to red to indicate the call is muted.
Here’s the picture of real hardware on a conference table. BT and Dolby had no qualms putting it next to a Polycom Soundstation for a visual comparison to invite a discussion on design.
On March 12, E-Plus announced it is delivering HD voice on its network.
The announcement via the company’s plug, held little information beyond the usual “Both parties must be on network, both parties must have HD voice capable devices to get HD voice” instructions along with a throwaway line that the Apple iPhone 5 supports HD voice.
E-Plus is the third-largest mobile operator in Germany with over 25 million subscribers. Perhaps appropriately, it is also the third operator to offer HD voice in Germany. Deutsche Telekom launched HD voice service in 2011, followed by Vodafone in 2013.
No discussion of if or when E-Plus will be able to start exchanging HD voice calls with other networks.
Orlando, Florida – BT and Dolby are marking their third year at Enterprise Connect promoting BT MeetMe with Dolby Voice conferencing. This time around, Dolby showed off its Voice Conference Phone. The world has changed, and it hasn’t.
Pricing on the beautifully designed Dolby Voice Conference Phone wasn’t announced, but would be “comparable” to other conference phones (i.e. Polycom) on the market.
A demo for analysts and media highlighted the device’s ability to deliver both high quality audio via the Dolby-based conferencing service as well as a spatial (audio location-based) experience for participants sitting around the device in a conference room setting, as well as for remote users via PC or mobile soft clients.
BT discussed its initial traction and statistics in promoting the Dolby conferencing service, to which it has an exclusive. The telecommunications firm has secured 7 customers, is in active discussions with around 50 more. Executives said they were surprised that 50 percent of conference traffic to date was IP based, indicating some “peer pressure” within companies to get participants to use the service for its higher quality an/or opt-in by users to use the higher quality service over PSTN-based participation.
But it’s not just about quality. BT says initial MeetMe Dolby users are averaging 30 percent cost savings over PSTN-conferencing, and have the potential to save up between 20 percent to 50 percent, depending on usage.
One should also note BT will gain cost savings as well. The company can shut down legacy PSTN conferencing gear and consolidate on newer, more flexible IP and software based services.