Orange has announced that it will offer mobile High Definition (HD) Voice for its customers in late 2010.
The announcement is a first for any UK mobile operator. Currently voice calls use a narrowband speech codec of 300–3400 Hz meaning call quality isn't as crystal clear as it could be. HD Voice uses the WB-AMR (Wideband Adaptive Multi-Rate) speech codec. This provides excellent audio quality due to a wider speech bandwidth of 50–7000 Hz. Orange claims the new codec "delivers significantly enhanced sound quality whilst utilising the same network resources."
HD Voice isn't a new thing for Orange, the company has been testing HD Voice in Moldova since September this year. Unfortunately handsets need to support the new codec and hopefully most device manufacturers will be able to provide software upgrades to support the new functionality. The higher-quality encoding is only possible over the 3G/HSDPA network as it uses a higher bandwidth.
Tom Alexander, CEO of Orange UK, said: "HD Voice really does inject a level of innovation into mobile phone calls, making it sound as if callers are actually in the same room. Once people have tried it, they won't want to go back."
Orange also provided some examples of the quality of voice calls using HD Voice, you can listen to them here.