magic jack PLUS Now Officially Offering HDVoice

MAGICJACKPLUS-250pxThis morning’s news dump included an email from a marketing service being used by magic jack. Some while ago when I heard a rumor that Vocaltec was working on some means of supporting HDVoice in the next generation of their magic jack product/service. While the new magic jack PLUS started to ship backing August todays email was the first I’ve seen that actually mentioned HDVoice.

According to the web site for the service;

“magicJack PLUS™ service has received rave reviews and many people think it is the best Call Quality they have ever heard. The magicJack PLUS™ has added High Definition Voice. Best Call Quality and it’s FREE.”

The big change from magic jack to magic jack PLUS is in the hardware. The little USB interface device once required the used a computer. With an RJ45 connection to your home network the new version can run completely standalone. No computer required. This was largely a competitive issue driven by the NetTalk Duo.

Since magic jack PLUS is effectively an ATA the mention of HDVoice seems a little counter-intuitive. ATAs connect to analog phones, and analog connections are historically filtered to PSTN standards…definitely not HDVoice.

On the other hand, magic jack PLUS is equal parts hardware, software and service. Thus the could quite easily connect calls between soft clients in HDVoice.

While I have no particular need for such a service I do wonder what flavor of codec they are deploying. The further rumor was that it was something of their own creation, but that seems unlikely. It will also be interesting to see if the company moves to start using IP-based peering so that it can exchange HD traffic with other networks.

I have no interest in dirt-cheap calling plans or ATAs, but I remain very enthusiastic about HDVoice.

  • I am not sure I understand their intent. They are supporting HD audio, but have no means to actually connect an HD device?

    • MJ historically leverages a soft phone on a PC. They actually bought SJ Phone long ago. The new device can work that way, or direct connect to an analog phone. I believe that they also offer a smartphone app.

      They could support HDVoice between customers using computers or the smartphone app. They could even support the HDVoice codec in passing calls to the RJ11 port on the ATA, but as you note, that’d be less than ideal.

      Why not support HDVoice in calls between customers? It’s all on-net to them so they can keep it IP all the way. They might even pass G.722 down TDM trunks if that’s still how they roll.

      In truth I expect it’s just a way to leverage some techno-cool buzz around a service that’s brutally dull. They are in effect one of the leaders in the race to the bottom.

      • BobB

        Indeed, it appears the HDVoice appears only when the device is plugged into a computer and the softphone app is active. I borrowed one from a friend and looked at its modes of operation. When it isn’t attached to a computer, just power, direct ethernet and RJ11 … it advertises ONLY PCMA/8000 and PCMU/8000 in the SDP on INVITE. When it is attached to a computer (and using the associated softphone app running on the Windows machine), it will advertise additional audio codecs in the SDP including: speex/16000, X-SJ-PCMA/16000 , X-SJ-PCMU/16000, G729/8000, iLBC/8000. This seems to be the case regardless of whether you are actually telling the softphone to use your PC audio subsystem/headphones or the RJ11 plug on the MagicJackPlus. I don’t know anyone else with one of these so I couldn’t actually call any other magicjack destinations to see which codec would be used or preferred. All my calls to real PSTN destinations obviously used PCMU.

        • Most excellent sleuthing Bob! That saves me the trouble. Thanks a bunch!

          They had said that they “had developed their own technology” which seemed a bit dubious. Running PCMA/U at 16 KHz is simple enough. Just requires 128 kbps vs 64 kbps.

          That also suggests that they don’t proxy the media, or their media proxies have been adapted to handle this non-standard codec. Given that Vocaltec has significant technological depth that is certainly possible.

          Since you’ve taken on this investigative task that leaves me to try the Vonage Android app, which is also reputed to be HDVoice capable.