Unlike the start of VoIP and VON oh-so-long-ago (circa 1997), HD voice is much further down the technology path in terms of technology and deployment. Islands of HD usage are appearing at major corporations, while BT, France Telecom (FT), and T-Mobile are all deploying HD within their territories in Europe. FT expects to be able to pass HD calls to other carriers at an appropriate QoS by the end of the year.
Kicking off the HD Summit, AudioCodes cited a quick Google search as an indicator of people showing more interest in HD. In the previous 10 years, there had been 190,000 hits on HD Voice/VoIP. Over the last 12 months, there were 82,000 hits, so from a search engine perspective, the trend line is definitely going up and to the right.
Avaya, Gigaset Communications USA, Polycom, and Snom all cited their respective hardware as being HD ready. Avaya said it had wideband codecs built into all of its handsets, but they didn’t brag about the fact to corporate customers. Polycom CTO Jeff Rodman said the company was moving “everything” to HD and VoIP networks could carry wideband traffic just as easily as narrowband, with business IP telephony rapidly expanding.
Enterprises are likely to be among the earliest adopters of HD, especially if they have moved to VoIP and have distributed locations. Turning on HD is a relatively straightforward process since the IT staff already maintains the infrastructure from end-to-end and can set a standard HD codec for the corporation.
HD voice received a big endorsement from a number of presenters when it comes to international calling. Alan Percey, AudioCodes’s Director of Business Development, admitted he “didn’t get it” on the value of HD until the company had implemented it and he started to be able to focus more on what was actually being said rather than trying to interpret what was coming out of the phone because some participants did not speak English as their native language; consonant clipping that occurs at 3000Hz with PSTN service interferes with trying to understand and comprehend non-native speakers of other languages.
Turning to the consumer market, France Telecom reported it has over 400,000 HD VoIP handsets deployed among its 6 million VoIP users in its native territory and its studies indicate up to 50 percent of VoIP users would switch to HD for better voice quality. FT, BT and Telecom Italia have all built “big islands” of HD and FT expects to be able to exchange HD VoIP calls with other European carriers by the end of the year.