Nº 1 2014 > Industry in brief
Mobile high-definition voice services go mainstream
A total of 93 operators have commercially launched high-definition voice services on mobile networks in 66 countries, according to Mobile HD voice: Global Update, a report published by GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) on 3 January 2014.
High-definition technology dramatically improves the quality and clarity of voice calls. This technology eliminates background noise in such a way that your conversations are crystal clear — when you are talking to someone, it sounds almost like you are both in the same room, or face-to-face. How does it work? The technology works by opening up the phone’s audio range, allowing it to capture and transmit sounds across a wider band of frequencies. This makes high-definition calls sound clearer and more natural than a standard mobile or landline call.
The first commercial high-definition voice service was launched in 2009, and today these services are being offered on third-generation/high speed packet access (3G/HSPA) networks by 81 operators, on both HSPA and GSM networks by 5 operators, on GSM-only networks by 2 operators, and on Voice-over-Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) networks by 5 operators.
High-definition voice is particularly widespread in Europe, being available on mobile networks in over 85 per cent of the 28 Member countries of the European Union, for example. However, the service extends to mobile networks in most other regions of the world too.
Mobile high-definition voice services use adaptive multi-rate wideband (W-AMR) technology, enabling high-quality voice calls and an improved user experience. Enabling interconnection between competing networks for end-to-end high-definition voice calling is now a priority for the industry. Some 20 countries have at least two mobile high-definition voice networks.
More progress is expected this year on the handling of international high-definition voice calls, and for high-definition voice calling between fixed and mobile networks. The number of high-definition voice compatible products also continues to rise, with at least 250 products being officially announced by leading manufacturers including Acer, AETA Audio Systems, Apple, Blackberry, Gigabyte, Glensound, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Pantech, Samsung, Sony, TCL (includes Alcatel brand), TechFaith, and ZTE. Depending on the model, compatible phones are available for use on 3G/HSPA, GSM or LTE networks.
Operator commitment to providing voice services for users on their VoLTE networks has significantly strengthened as network coverage improves, and smartphone penetration and usage have increased. More than 30 operators have committed to VoLTE deployments or trials. VoLTE technology is maturing.