Feature Article

April 30, 2012

Winners Thus Far in the 2012 HD Voice Sweepstakes

In reviewing the growing movement towards HD voice quality around the world over the last twelve months, some companies are winners. Service providers, network equipment manufacturers, a couple of chip companies, and one humble software codec stand out among the hundred or so companies listed in the latest HD Voice News report available through MobilityTechzone.

Sprint is clearly a big winner in announcing HD voice service for its 3G CDMA network in late 2012. The announcement has spurred a flurry of U.S. media attention has swamped HD voice progress via Voice over LTE (VoLTE) by MetroPCS (second half 2012) and Verizon Wireless (testing now, some cities 2012, nationwide coverage estimated 2013).

Outside of the U.S., you can look north to Bell Canada and Telstra for large geographical HSPA HD voice deployments.   France Telecom has deployed HD voice to the most nations and regions around the globe, with strong coverage in Europe and a significant footprint in Africa and the Middle East. Deutsche Telekom and Telekom Austria have deployed to multiple subsidiaries as well.

Connecting all those HD voice networks with IPX (IP eXchange) services is a big opportunity over the next couple of years. How that translates into more revenue from simple IP transit to SIP transit with QoS guarantees is an open question, but Intelliquent – the company formerly known as Neutral Tandem – has an early start in mind and market share. Verizon also has an interesting card to play with its VIPER SIP offering if they can manage to frame it beyond its current enterprise context into a larger service provider offering.

At the heart of IPX services is the humble Session Border Controller (SBC). Acme Packet and Sonus Networks are very well positioned in the IPX world and can add transcoding to enable seamless calling between different HD voice codecs, primarily between the AMR-WB mobile and the G.722 broadband worlds.  Dialogic and Sangoma also bring transcoding solutions to the table; a very important need with Sprint throwing a third HD voice codec into the mix on its 3G CDMA network.

Speaking of 3G CDMA, Qualcomm is a big winner in HD voice this year. Bundling in its EVRC-NW codec into all of its chips means that HD voice will simply just appear in many CDMA markets if carriers invest in 1X Advanced hardware upgrades – also sold by Qualcomm – within their networks.

I also have to give props to NVIDIA in rolling into the mobile chipset world in a big way this year, combining its quad-core Tegra 3 processor with the Icera 410 LTE modem chip to provide a one-stop shop for LTE phone silicon. Audience also had a good year with the revelation Apple has licensed its voice processing technology and bundled it into the latest Apple ARM-based chip.

Finally, the open-source Speex codec quietly gained ground over the last 12 months. It's now supported in Google Talk and the magicJack Plus soft client, appearing to make more forward progress than Skype's Opus codec.

The "HD Voice 2012: Proliferation" report is available for purchase through MobilityTechzone here.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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