HD Voice is on the Move

By Erik Linask April 27, 2012

Last week, HD Voice News released its second annual report on the state of the HD voice ecosystem, "2012: Proliferation." Group Editorial Director of TMC Erik Linask sat down with HD Voice News Editor-in-Chief Doug Mohney to discuss the state of the HD voice industry, trends to watch, and insights into the process of creating the report.

TechZone360: HD voice has been around for years through ISDN and in business VoIP. What's driving today's rising tide in interest and adoption?

Mohney:You have to credit the mobile industry, specifically France Telecom (FT) and Ericsson, for starting the push in 2009 to deploy HD voice on HSPA wireless networks. I think that set a benchmark for voice quality on LTE. With the wave of LTE networks and VoLTE (Voice over LTE) service deployments coming on line in the next twenty four months, it's only going to get bigger.

Sprint declares it will deliver HD voice over CDMA in late 2012 and suddenly the U.S. media discovers wonders of wideband. If FT and Ericsson are laughing, I don't blame them.

TechZone360: Will mobile HD voice drive more broadband HD voice?

Mohney: Did Apple drive smartphones, tablets, and app stores with the iThings family?  <laugh> 

"Yes" is the answer. And I think it will happen a lot faster in the business sector than the whole smartphone-tablet-mobile-app store trend because a lot of pieces are already there. Nearly all IP handsets and most cloudy hosted service support HD voice and service providers realize they can't have "islands" of HD voice anymore.

Ironically, Apple is behind the curve in offering the world standard for mobile HD voice on the iPhone family. I expect the iPhone 5 or whatever it will be called to have AMR-WB support baked in this fall, with iPhone 4 users possibly supported via the related iOS update.

TechZone360: Don't you need to transcode between mobile and broadband HD voice?

Mohney: You are correct, sir. Big business opportunities there.

A lot of the IPX (IP eXchange) players are thinking about offering transcoding services between HD voice codecs. It makes sense, if you're already moving around SIP between carriers with QoS, you might as well plug in transcoding if it is wanted or needed.

But even before the IPX players, you have service providers like Verizon, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom and Telstra with large broadband G.722 HD voice clouds that will want to naturally connect mobile AMR-WB HD voice calls. BT and others believe there's money to be made in transcoding HD voice services.

TechZone360: Speaking of business opportunities, who do you see benefiting from more HD voice?

Mohney: Companies with a solid play in transcoding. Aculab, Dialogic, Sangoma are all in that ballpark.

VoiceAge, the patent manager for AMR-WB, has a good window of opportunity here if they could work out a deal with Polycom and a couple of the other big IP phone manufacturers. Businesses and service providers don't want to deal with transcoding. Figure out how to deliver a low cost firmware upgrade to deployed IP phones with AMR-WB baked in. Offer it for under a dollar a phone, with discounts for large installations, they could rake in a lot of money in short order.

An under-the-radar application that will benefit is voice recognition services, especially voice biometrics to authenticate people. How long does it take for you to get authenticated when you call your credit card company on a billing issue? Heaven forbid if you have to do it for your spouse and you don't have his/her social security number in front of you. 

Voice biometics gets you in and out of the call center a lot faster. Down in New Zealand, I think they were shaving off anywhere from 20 to 30 seconds per call. That's huge!

TechZone360: When we spoke earlier, you said you were "highly relieved" to have the report closed out. Why is that?

Mohney: I expected this to be a moderate amount of work, between adding new sections for testing and professional broadcasting services and all the updating for Europe and LTE deployments.

Boy was I wrong! Once I started research on one thread, it would leave to three and four other threads to check and double check.

As I look back, another thing I think that affected the report was "Twitter editing." During the proofing process, I'd read and re-read a paragraph. By the time I was done, I might have hacked out a half dozen words and altered another one or two to change the tone.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

Group Editorial Director

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