I’ve been a T-Mobile customer for a long time. In fact, my transition to T-Mobile happened when I bought my first smart phone, a Blackberry 8100 (aka Pearl).
More recently I’ve been using an LG-made Nexus 5. No, not the newer 5X. Late last year I semi-regressed from a One+ One to a Nexus 5. One of the reasons for that step backward in time was to finally be able to enjoy mobile HDVoice calls to my wife, who also carries a Nexus 5.
T-Mobile, who lead the US in the rollout of mobile HDVoice, supports it’s use for in-network calls between a list of supported handsets, including the Nexus 5. That initial rollout of HDVoice came before the big build of their LTE network. They enabled the AMR-WB codec (aka G.722.2) over their existing 3G HSPA+ network.
Most other US carriers waited until their LTE rollout to launch HDVoice. An LTE network is natively an IP network, readily supporting advanced voice codecs and video. When the voice calls are handled over the LTE network it’s called Voice-Over-LTE or VoLTE, which is very different from how voice was handled on 3G networks.
T-Mobile has been supporting mobile HDVoice for over a year. However, my sense is that not very many people are actually experiencing HDVoice. If they are, they might not even know it.
For example, two of my associates have the Google/LG Nexus 5 handsets on T-Mobile’s network. Both are the sort of people who would hear and appreciate the difference that HDVoice makes. That said, both were initially of the impression that the Nexus 5 did not support HDVoice on T-Mobile!
This gave rise to the idea that we should devise a simple way to verify that a call was in HDVoice. If convenient, this would allow anyone interested to make a call between two handsets and know with certainty that the devices and call path was actually delivering HDVoice.
Devising such a test turns out to be very easy in a world of smart phones. All you need is a tone generator or a recording of a specific continuous tone.
Ever curious, I thought it worth looking into what kind of HD Voice-capable devices they would be offering. The list of twenty handsets seems quite comprehensive. That bodes well for customers someday actually getting to experience HDVoice.
Just as significantly, the HD Voice capable handsets was easy to identify. The company lists “HD Voice” as a key feature that can be used to search through the entirety of their handset offering. Thus new customers can easily reference this feature while in the process of selecting their new handset.
Last month at CES the nations #3 mobile carrier launched HDVoice nationally on its HSPA+ network. Here’s the entire press release. Actually, here’s the snippet that you need to track:
T-Mobile today announced that HD Voice is now available on its network nationwide, dramatically improving in-call voice quality for customers with capable smartphones. Customers will hear a more true-to-life voice quality that’s fuller and more natural-sounding with significantly reduced background noise from street traffic, wind and crowd noise. To experience HD Voice, both parties on the call must use capable T-Mobile 4G smartphones such as the HTC One™ S, Nokia Astound and Samsung Galaxy S® III on T-Mobile’s HD Voice-enabled nationwide network. T-Mobile is the first U.S. wireless provider to launch HD Voice nationwide.
It’s very exciting, yes? Well, it is for me as I am both a big fan of HDVoice and a long-time T-Mobile customer.
Steve Perich, also of Australia, pointed me to an older post on Telstra’s coprorate blog. It highlights the fact that earlier in the year they launched HDVoice capability across their mobile network. Given the size of their coverage area they claim to have the largest HDVoice footprint on the planet.
The blog post includes nice video that highlights not only the improvements to the audible frequency range, but also the fact that it’s possible to do a better of job of background noise suppression with the richer audio data provided by the HDVoice stream.
Yesterday Dan York, in his role as Director Of Conversations at Voxeo, gave a webinar* on HDVoice. Dan’s presentation included a good basic introduction to wideband telephony. He cited the well known limitations of the legacy PSTN before moving on to highlight the wideband capabilities of Voxeo’s new Prophesy and Prism product offerings.
This session was part of the companies Jam Session series that introduces new capabilities to developers. To put it simplistically, Voxeo is a tool-maker. The offerings of the tool-makers typically lead the services that we eventually see in the larger consumer space. That makes the tool-makers very important. That the tool-makers show both imagination and leadership is critically important.