Orange punts quality calling
HD moniker applied to voice, again
Orange UK is upping the quality of voice calls over the next year, branding the development "HD Voice" in the ongoing search for market differentiation.
The improvements come with use of Wideband Adaptive Multi-Rate (WB-AMR) as a voice codec, which has been around for a while but never deployed. The common wisdom has been that customers won't pay for additional quality and they will need new handsets, a clutch of which Orange plans to launch over the next 12 months.
While data rates have soared over recent years the quality of a voice call hasn't improved since the first GSM call back in 1991. There was an opportunity to improve the quality when Adaptive Multi-Rate was introduced ten years ago, but operators took the practical option of carrying more calls rather than increasing the quality.
Existing call quality is good enough for most European languages. Speakers of more-tonal languages often want more quality but most of us can convey meaning over a mobile phone so why bother enhancing the quality?
It seems that conveying meaning isn't as important as it used to be - most mobile calls these days are emotional affairs where the exchange of information is secondary to the act of being in touch, which makes detection of tonal variations more important.
At least that's what Orange hopes. A more cynical view would suggest that it's a desperate attempt by the company to differentiate "signature" handsets, having failed to get customers using MegaSIMs or custom widgets, and that "HD Voice" is just an impressive-looking tag to put on branded phones. ®
Implementing WB-AMR on the network will cost money - every base station will need to support it - but that's probably a software upgrade, so not hugely expensive. If Orange gets any traction then it won't be long before all the operators follow suit. And it's about the quality of voice calling on mobile phones improved - it's what they're for after all.
"the quality of a voice call hasn't improved since the first GSM call back in 1991."
No. We got EFR (Enhanced Full Rate), in the mid 1990s, as a spin off from the Americans playing with the standard for 1900MHz.
The original codec was optimised for the German, male voice. It's no wonder the Americans took exception to this.
There was also the promise of EHR (Enhanced half rate) to double capacity, but it sounded rubbish and has only been used in emergency situations.
That said Wideband AMR from Orange is to be appluaded. It's got overtones of the old Orange which was great at rolling out advanced tech.
I'd rather they fixed their network.
I get random call drops, and sometimes my calls just go to voicemail without ringing, even in a 'full signal' area. This seems worse with 3G, but has always been a problem.
The quality of voice is fine - just improve network reliability.
I'd just be happy with a signal in my house.
It used to be fine.
Then about a year ago it got worse... A month or two later I got a text message telling me that they had performed some modifications to my local cell and I should notice an improvement in the signal.
It's been the same crap level ever since.
I can move the phone 2 inches on the table and it will go from 2 bars to nothing. Earlier today as I picked it up it had 4, I looked in disbelief, and then they all vanished.
Oh, and I'm talking old 2G signal here, let's not even go near the 3G signal level!
How long has mobile comms been ubiquitous in the developed world? Must be 15 years by now.
Does it not strike anyone that, after BILLIONS of handset sales, MILLIONS of contract sales, MASSIVE corporate sales, hefty data charges, cheeky stealth charges etc etc........ mobile network providers are now starting bunfights over call quality, network coverage & bandwidth.
2010 will be the year when network providers claim "my phone makes clearer and more reliable calls than yours, and sends emails/SMS more reliably too"
What on earth did they spend all their profits on????/
As Spinal Tap had it... GSM = Gimme Some Money.
So, that might mean that WB-AMR might mean something like We're Broke - Accelerated Money Requirement. Or something like that.