Feature Article

January 28, 2013

Mobile HD Voice to Fill Out Asia in 2013, US by 2014

Mobile HD voice is available in many places – over 50 networks in over 40 countries and counting – but it’s clearly established in Europe. Asia appears to be the "next big thing" for widespread HD voice coverage, while the U.S. isn't going to get there until 2014 at the earliest. 

In Europe, you can start in Ireland and move eastward through the European Union to find HD voice coverage nearly all the way to (and including) Russia. A number of EU nations have two or more mobile carriers offering HD voice service, while France has three. 

It's easier to rattle off wideband "dead zones," which include the smaller border states between Russia and the EU, plus Sweden.

Asia has been on an HD voice installation streak in over the last six months. Earlier this month, Indonesia became the latest country in the region to get HD voice through mobile carrier, AXIS, with the news lighting up Twitter.

The Philippines got HD voice in October along with the third of three of the top South Korean carriers, the latter all turning up Voice over LTE (VoLTE). Thailand joined the HD voice club in December. 

When added to previously established services in Australia, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, Asia only needs HD voice deployments in China and Japan to reach the same level of country-by-country coverage that Europe has. 

BT Wholesale's deployment of an IPX exchange hub for the area in Singapore now appears to be a brilliant and timely move, enabling regional carriers to seamlessly exchange HD voice calls and other IP/SIP-based services.

It's still in the early days for HD voice in the U.S. T-Mobile USA is now starting to promote the service it announced at International CES 2013 with a YouTube video available below. 

Expect to hear more about HD voice on the radio and TV from T-Mobile in the weeks to come, with the knob turned to 11 when the company (presumably) rolls out the Apple iPhone 5.

AT&T is slated to turn up VoLTE on its network in 2013, perhaps as early as by mid-year, giving the U.S. two out of four major carriers offering HD voice. Both Sprint and Verizon said they were going to offer HD voice service in 2013 – and both failed to hit the mark. Verizon had showcased the technology with VoLTE a couple of years ago at Mobile World Congress, along with a 2012 rollout date, but the company started backpeddling and slipping with the latest company officials saying consumer trials will happen in late 2013.

In the spring of 2012, Sprint said it would offer HD voice over its CDMA network in "late 2012," with VoLTE following sometime in 2013 as the company rolled out its network upgrades. 

As January closes, Sprint has made no further announcements on HD voice service, leading me to look at my WiMAX phone and start looking at other cellular carriers.

Doug Mohney will be moderating the "Audio Quality in VoIP: Quo Vadis?" panel on January 30, at 12:00 p.m. at IT EXPO East 2013 in Miami.

Edited by Braden Becker

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