Feature Article

July 13, 2012

Mobile HD Voice Matures in Europe, Ramping in Asia

As Sprint touts about future HD voice capabilities this week, this time with a white HTC EVO 4G LTE phone, Europe continues to show maturity in its offering while Asia starts to ramp up HD voice service. When will the U.S. get its first mobile HD voice carrier? We're into the second half of 2012, so someone has to be close.

Poland wireless carrier Play/P4 has launched HD voice service on its network, according to Telepolis.pl. The service has been running on its 3G HSPA for a few weeks and supports a variety of phones, including a variety of HTC, Samsung, Sony XPERIA and Nokia models. It isn't known yet if Play will extend support to its 2G network, but it is likely to happen given what other operators are doing to provide a seamless voice experience across GSM-based network.

Play is the second carrier in Poland to rollout mobile HD voice service. T-Mobile Poland/PTC launched service in August 2011, the first subsidiary in the T-Mobile/Deutsche Telekom family to introduce it, with support both on T-Mobile's 2G and 3G networks in the country.

More importantly, this brings the tally of European countries with two mobile carriers supporting HD voice to six. Austria, France, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom also have two carriers offering HD voice service. Outside of Europe, Canada, Hong Kong and India also have two carriers offering HD voice as this point in time.

In Asia, Celcom has launched mobile HD voice service in Malaysia as a part of its HSPA+ upgrades.  The carrier is the oldest mobile telecommunications firm in the country and had 31 percent market share in the 25 million person country at the end of 2010. 

Malaysia joins Australia, Hong Kong and India in offering HD voice over HSPA+ service, but the real explosion is set to take place in South Korea by the end of the year. Three of the country's mobile operators have rolled out LTE and expect to have 30 percent of the population on LTE smartphones within a few months.   KT, LG Uplus and SK Telecom have all pledged to offer Voice over LTE (VoLTE) by the end of the year.

In comparison, the U.S. mobile market is heavily weighted to LTE for HD voice. MetroPCS says it will deploy VoLTE in the second half of this year, while Verizon Wireless will start sometime in 2012 with nationwide coverage coming by 2013. Sprint plans to introduce HD voice on its upgraded 3G CDMA 1X Advanced network in "late 2012," with VoLTE coming in 2013.

"HD Voice 2012: Proliferation," Doug Mohney's latest report on the HD voice ecosystem, is available for purchase through TMCNet here.

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Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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