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Orange Launches HD Voice Phone Calls

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As we all know, mobile phone handsets have improved somewhat over the last 20 years, but when it comes to actual voice quality, nothing has really changed.

From today though, Orange is become the first UK network to try and do something about that and has introduced a service called, not surprisingly, High Definition Voice. The downside is that while the service is available on Orange across the whole of the UK it requires the use of HD enabled handsets at either end – so it won’t work when you call a landline.

As you would imagine, it’s designed to deliver crystal clear voice quality, rather than the muffled, indistinct tones we’re so accustomed to. It’s the result of the adoption of a new and more efficient speech codec called AMR-WB.

Orange said in a statement that the BBC was trialling using HD handsets as a low cost way of improving the quality of live contributions for guests on news items, which are often just done on mobile phones and that it could potentially replace the use of expensive ISDN lines.


The system should prove popular as the codec includes intelligent noise cancelling algorithms, which makes it easier to be heard in noisier surroundings.

The only real downside is the need for handsets that support it. It’s currently limited to the Nokia E5 and Samsung Omnia Pro 5230, though more handsets are expected to be coming soon.

"HD Voice is going to change the way businesses are able to communicate through our mobiles from conducting calls in places that were not previously possible to the ability to hear emotions in people's voices”, said Martin Stiven, vice president of Business at Everything Everywhere, the company which runs Orange UK in a statement.

“People are going to love the clarity of calls and the lack of background noise. Once you've used it, you will want to keep it."

Assuming this becomes supported across networks, it looks as though there’s going to be another feature to add to the list of must haves for next year’s phones. However, with the rise of VoIP over conventional networks, is this not a case of too little, too late?

Link: Orange UK.

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