HD Voice - it's all about connecting up the disparate islands

Oresund Bridge from Denmark to Sweden. On the ...

Oresund Bridge, image via Wikipedia

This weeks announcement[1] by Orange that it plans to roll out mobile HD Voice to several more countries throughout Europe, and from UK operator Three that they will roll out HD Voice capability to ‘most’ phones by the autumn is good news for the spread of HD Voice, but Orange are missing a trick.

Read down to the bottom of the Orange press release and you come to the part about hooking up its HD Voice capable mobile networks with its own broadband fixed network service that currently has approximately 800,000 subscribers. Orange is not planning to enable a customer who might have its wideband service on their home network to talk to someone (possibly a member of the same family) in HD Voice quality on a mobile phone until 2012 or 2013!

If HD Voice is to succeed in a big way, then you have to create a system that allows you (with a HD Voice capable device) to call another person (with an equally capable device) and not have to rely on that person being on the same network as you to guarantee the ability for the call to be setup with the best quality.
If disparate islands of HD Voice capability are developed in isolation, then the technology will never achieve its potential to revolutionise the voice communications landscape. What is needed is a concerted effort, from Orange and others, to create the bridges between these islands. If we can build road bridges between countries (I am referring here to the Oresund bridge opened in 2000, to connect Copenhagen in Denmark to Malmo in Sweden, a distance of 4.8 miles) to facilitate better communications and trade links, then surely we can create a global HD Voice telecommunications system by focussing some of the effort on the links between different operators and network types, fixed and mobile, and transcoding between different codec types that are used in these networks.

However, Orange doesn’t need to wait a year or more before they connect up their HD Voice island with others – the technology to facilitate the island-interconnection for Orange to hook up its fixed HD Voice network to its mobile HD voice network is all currently available. All you need is a transcoding server with support for the fixed and mobile HD Voice codecs (G.722 and G.722.2), and some work perhaps on the billing/OSS, and you have a solution. If you don’t know where to go for such technology, you could do worse than to start with Aculab’s media processing technology, Prosody X or Prosody S, which would build into a very capable HD Voice transcoding engine.

Andrew Nicholson

[1] Orange opens up access to High Definition Voice for its customers

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