Telecom Factoid: This was state-of-the-art when the standard for “Toll Quality” telephony was defined

Yes, sir. That little beauty to the right was the current state-of-the-art in 1937. That’s when what we call “toll quality” calling was supposedly set down as a standard.

In fact, I find it hard to believe that the entire realm of telecom has lived with the paltry 300 Hz – 3.4 KHz pass-band of telephony for the past 74 years. It’s beyond embarrassing. It’s a flagrant violation of Moore’s Law.

That’s the curious thing about “standards” they have a lifespan like most things. In the early portion of that lifespan they provide a forward-looking goal, something that we can strive to achieve. However, in the trailing portion of their life span they restrain us, and keep us from achieving even greater things.

Add in a dash of not-quite-real-competition-because-of-monopolist-tendencies and you have a recipe for paralysis.

It’s the 21st century. We should demand better. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!

Hello VTech? Your “HD Audio” Isn’t HDVoice, ok?

Doug Mohney, Editor of HD Voice News is quite plain in saying that he Hates The Term “HD Audio!” In this case his comment stems from the fact that VTech, a Canadian manufacturer of consumer cordless telephones, has started to use the term “HD Audio” describe some of their latest hardware.

The company describes the “HD Audio” feature as follows:

“The frequency band has been extended allowing for the signal to be reproduced and tuned for a fuller and clearer sound.”

In addition, they seem to have implemented a kind of tone control with several preset contours.

“The equalizer feature on the handset enables you to change the audio quality of the handset to best suit your hearing. While on a call or intercom call, or listening to a message or announcement, press EQ to select the equalizer setting Treble 1, Treble 2, Bass or Natural (the default setting) for the handset. The current setting is displayed on the handset briefly.”

Since these are DECT 6.0 devices it’s possible that the cordless aspects of the system use G.722 encoded audio to provide higher quality sound for calls between handsets. However, since the device offers only the analog PSTN interface to the world it’s going to be limited to narrowband G.711 for all calls to the PSTN. The intercom function may be improved, but it’ll have limited impact upon most of the things that people do with a telephone.

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VoIP Supply On HDVoice

Earlier today Hardcoresecurity tweeted about a funny little thing. He noticed that the home page for VoIP Supply now proclaims that “VoIP Specialists are available in High Definition…”

Looks like @VoIPSupply figured out HD Voice over the PSTN – Website says, “…available in HD 8:30am–9pm weekdays. — Toll Free: 1-800…” 😉

That’s novel, right? The thing is that they offer only a toll free PSTN number as a contact method. Here’s a screen shot of a portion of their home page.

I expect that at present it’s very unlikely that you could actually have an HDVoice call with anyone at VoIP Supply. It’s not impossible, but unlikely.

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The Mythical POTS Advantage: Line Powered Phones

When conversation turns to a debate of VoIP vs POTS one of the common arguments in favor of keeping at least one POTS line is the idea that a plain vanilla phone doesn’t require AC power. It’s power comes down that very same POTS line from the phone company, so in theory  it  remains operational in the case of a power outage. This is fast on the way to becoming a myth.

The idea itself is not wrong. You could have a very plain phone on your POTS line, and it would work during a power outage. However, the simple fact is that at least in the US…almost noone has a simple line powered phone anymore.

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Considering Wideband Audio Over The Traditional PSTN

polycomlogoQuestion: What was the first HDVoice product that Polycom offered?

Answer: The Polycom VTX 1000 conference phone.

The thing that makes this fact so curious is not immediately obvious. The VTX 1000 is not a SIP device, nor even IP capable. Like it’s closest relative the Polycom SoundStation 2, it’s designed to connect to a plain old analog phone line (a.k.a. POTS, the PSTN).

Of course, the common wisdom is that you just can’t have wideband telephony over the PSTN. Yet the VTX 1000, circa 2003, delivers wideband conference calls so it seems that assertion is not strictly true. Understanding this is in a little more depth would seem like a good thing. Happily, Polycom published a white paper describing the internals of the VTX 1000.

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