We applaud this development, though I'd like to strangle whoever came up with the branding...
Today (yes, New Year's Eve - no rest for the wicked) Orange has announced its will place great emphasis on network call quality during 2010 with the launch of 'High Definition Voice'. Described as "crystal clear, superior sound quality" Orange claims it will set a new standard for the industry, though to be fair at times so could shouting into two paper cups attached with string.
The science? HD Voice uses the WB-AMR (Wideband Adaptive Multi-Rate) speech codec. This provides potential for far better audio quality thanks to a wider bandwidth of 50–7000Hz compared to the current narrowband speech codec of 300–3400Hz. Helpfully, WB-AMR also utilises no additional network resources.
“Orange is proud to be leading the industry into the next decade by announcing a new standard in voice innovation that will transform the mobile experience for customers in the UK," said Orange CEO Tom Alexander (pictured). "HD Voice really does inject a level of innovation into mobile phone calls, making it sound as if callers are actually in the same room. Once people have tried it, they won’t want to go back."
Silly branding apart, it's hard to have a go at any operator trying to improve the quality of calls on its network, though there are caveats:
1. You'll need an HD Voice enabled handset and there aren't any. Orange says it is "already working with leading handset manufacturers on the development of devices to be rolled out next year". Hmmmn, it'll need to be very persuasive to tempt global businesses to adopt standards for its specific network.
2. Is it unclear whether HD Voice will have any impact when cross calling between different networks. If it doesn't (and who actually knows which networks their friends/colleagues are on?) then its benefits become somewhat hit and miss.
3. Better call quality isn't the same as better coverage, but better coverage does result in better call quality so maybe it would make more sense to fix that first as everyone wins?
Still, HD Voice will make things better... when you have a compatible phone... speaking to another compatible phone... on the right network... where there is reception...
I'll go grab that paper cup.