Feature Article

September 05, 2012

GSA: Mobile HD Voice on a Roll with 45 Networks

The latest statistics on mobile HD voice deployments are out, courtesy of the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) and its latest report. Worldwide, there are 45 confirmed commercial networks with HD voice. Coverage for HD voice extends over 60 percent of the EU and there are 10 countries that have two or more operators offering HD voice.   Don't blink -- HD voice deployment is going to jump dramatically in the next 12 months with VoLTE deployments.

First launched back in 2009, HD voice is now in 35 countries ranging from Armenia to Uganda. Countries with two mobiles providers delivering HD voice include Austria, Canada, Croatia, France, Poland, Slovenia, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK. 

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South Korea currently has the "hot hand" for HD voice, with LG UPlus and SK Telecom -- two of the country's largest carriers -- offering it directly with Voice over LTE (VoLTE) -- with KT expected to join them in the next month or two. All of LTE's advanced features and technologies appear to be going into deployment first in South Korea, so carriers from around the world will be watching the country closely for business successes and deployment hiccups.

Waiting in the wings are at least another 11 GSM-based networks moving to HD voice, according to GSA. Two carriers in Portugal and the UAE are trialing HD voice on their HSPA networks. Another nine carriers have announced plans they will roll out VoLTE on their LTE networks, including AT&T, Clearwire, Sprint, and Verizon. GSA doesn't provide a date certain for individual deployments, but AT&T, Sprint and Verizon have all said they expect VoLTE to be deployed nationwide in 2013.

Finally, GSA's latest database of HD voice phones has 81 different entries. What GSA doesn't say is that the latest model Android phones all are built to support AMR-WB as a standard feature, so if you've got new Android phone, it should do HD voice -- if the carrier has the feature turned on in the network and enabled in the phone.

The Apple iPhone doesn't currently support HD voice, but I expect that to change on September 12 with the rollout of the iPhone 5. It is commonly expected the new iPhone will support LTE and should, therefore, support VoLTE and HD voice. I also anticipate HSPA models of the iPhone 4GS and maybe the iPhone 4 to support AMR-WB HD voice via an iOS software upgrade. But then again, we're dealing with Apple, so who knows what the company will do? Certainly, European carriers have been clamoring for iPhone HD voice support and I suspect they will get it next week.

Want to learn more about today’s powerful mobile Internet ecosystem? Don't miss the Mobility Tech Conference & Expo, collocated with ITEXPO West 2012 taking place Oct. 2-5 2012, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at Mobility Tech Conference & Expo. Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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