Orange launching Mobile HD Voice in 2010 [UK]

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.

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27 Comments

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It'll come as part of a software update on the RNC/MGW (Radio Network Controller / Media GateWay). They'll be no new harware for Orange , it'll jst be a new codec -- they'll have the license money to pay to Nokia though.

As for your the phones -- it'll be new phones or at the very least a software / firmware update. I am not sure whether the codecs are built into the IC's for speed reasons.

Anyway that's my two-penneth.

Zig.

P.s. For those of you that slag Oranges' coverage you really need to learn the differences between GSM and DCS (the frequency make a lot of difference to the cell sizes). A little research goes a long way. The money is made in City Centres and not the outskirts and definately not the rural areas. That's business.......

Orange coverage in the UK sucks, how about they focus on bringing their current "non-hd" (in loosest possible terms) quality up-to par with other providers?

Am I to assume the other caller(mobile obviously) would also have to meet these requirements for increased voice clarity?

Proposed marketing tag line:
"If you manage to get our current signal, and if you manage to get decent 3g one too whilst your at it, you too may be able to experience better sound quality."

Who's decided this voice is 'HD', are Orange simply calling it HD because its higher quality, or is this an agreed standard?

barteh said,
Who's decided this voice is 'HD', are Orange simply calling it HD because its higher quality, or is this an agreed standard?

It's just marketing. It's not like everyone has to ask for permission to use HD in their product names...

barteh said,
Who's decided this voice is 'HD', are Orange simply calling it HD because its higher quality, or is this an agreed standard?

Kind of like HD radio :P

Maybe they've based some of it on a codec that already has HD in the name, like DTS-HD ? Look through the documentation for licences.

The article said,
...delivers significantly enhanced sound quality whilst utilising the same network resources.

The article also said,
The higher-quality encoding is only possible over the 3G/HSDPA network as it uses a higher bandwidth.

Is it just me, or do those statements contradict each other? Surely if the new codec used the same resources as the old codec, it wouldn't need extra bandwidth?

TCLN Ryster said,
Is it just me, or do those statements contradict each other? Surely if the new codec used the same resources as the old codec, it wouldn't need extra bandwidth?

What they mean is, it causes the same amount of resources to be used to make the call. But it requires the use of newer technology for the actual sending and receiving. So what they are conveying is, increasing the bitrate (but sending it over 3G) wont cause any more load than a normal call over the existing GSM network would cause.

TCLN Ryster said,
Is it just me, or do those statements contradict each other? Surely if the new codec used the same resources as the old codec, it wouldn't need extra bandwidth?

I know this is in the UK but I bet both o2 (UK) and AT&T (US) are K@#ing in their pants if they have to worry about more bandwidth usage. Isnt the iPhone already killing that. (I know voice vs web but overall I'm sure this isnt what they want)

TechGuyPA said,
I know this is in the UK but I bet both o2 (UK) and AT&T (US) are K@#ing in their pants if they have to worry about more bandwidth usage. Isnt the iPhone already killing that. (I know voice vs web but overall I'm sure this isnt what they want)

O2 must be, and if Orange get enough iPhone users it could be interesting to see how many 'HD' calls you can make...

I can't see how it wouldn't negatively affect battery. If it's gonna use your 3G transceiver for calls as well as just data, then you're battery time is gonna be slashed. It's not like manufacturers can remove the old GSM transceiver to save power, you'll need that for areas where 3G isn't available. Unless the phone can intelligently switch off the GSM transceiver when you're in a 3G area or something.

One thing's for sure, when this comes to iPhone, iPhone owners are screwed so far as battery life is concerned

Quite suprised this wasn't pushed earlier to be honest. I wasn't even aware that they could have been doing this all along!

firmware updates for older phones please!

wonder if apple will be adding this to the iphone. Mobiles have always sounded awful which is why i use the landline for most calls as its hard to hear properly and for the other person to hear you.

torrentthief said,
firmware updates for older phones please&#33

I personally don't like that idea. I doubt the sound quality is going to be worth another simfree hacking.

torrentthief said,
firmware updates for older phones please!

wonder if apple will be adding this to the iphone. Mobiles have always sounded awful which is why i use the landline for most calls as its hard to hear properly and for the other person to hear you.

Actually Landlines also use 300hz - 3.4khz the difference in quality down to the compression used to transmit it over the mobile network.

Sampling a larger range doesn't necessarily mean better call quality, using a decent compression codec however could be what makes the difference.

Presumably both people need to be using a compatible handset...so even if it "launches" in 2010, no one will really benefit from it until 2011/12

I hope they can update old handsets since this is only a codec and sounds like software only unless they need powerful hardware to power it.

This should have happened years ago. When 3G was first introduced and they did video calls they should have axed that idea and delivered HD Voice.

Vice said,
This should have happened years ago. When 3G was first introduced and they did video calls they should have axed that idea and delivered HD Voice.

Most definitely. Video calling is probably the most pointless, useless and least used feature now really they would have much benefited by putting it into improving voice quality.