Feature Article

February 08, 2013

GSMA Expands HD Voice Logo to CDMA, Fixed Line, CAT-iq

At Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2013 in Barcelona, GSMA will have a lot to say about HD voice. One of the organization's efforts is a standardized logo to indicate HD voice capability in equipment and by service providers.   You'll see this logo being used beyond the 3GPP mobile world of GSM/UMTS/LTE and appearing on CDMA and even fixed line services and equipment.

GSMA, the global organization for mobile operators , established a unique and standardized HD voice logo for the mobile world about eighteen months ago, defining strict guidelines to ensure a "consistent end-user experience." There's no charge to use the HD voice logo, but a network operator or device manufacturer needs to meet technical specifications spelled out in the licensing agreement. The "Annex C: 'HD Voice' Minimum Requirements" (Not HD VoIP or <gag> HD sound or HD audio!) are spelled out in a 19 page document initially written for the 3GPP mobile world and focused on AMR-WB codec usage. Licensees self-certify that their product or service is compliant with the technical requirements

New specifications have been recently approved for CDMA networks and devices, moving beyond the 3GPP world. In addition, the GSMA and the DECT Forum have worked out an agreement where the CAT-iq 2.0 specifications have been approved as minimum requirements for HD voice logo usage on "fixed" devices; i.e., broadband connections using the G.722 codec.

"There's more to come in the near term. This year, we expect to add terminal requirements for associated elements, such as headsets," says Katrin Jordan, chair of the GSMA Terminal Steering Group. GSMA is in discussions with the Bluetooth SIG for logo usage with Bluetooth devices supporting HD voice, as well as working on standards for wired headsets.

If you know where to look, you can find the HD voice logo in use today by carriers such as Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom/Orange and the Three Group. Handset manufacturers have been a little slower to use it, with Sony doing the best job so far in its rollout of the Xperia.   Expect to see more usage and attention at the end of the month at MWC.

However, there is still a lot of work to be done for the HD voice logo to become commonplace. The "associated elements" people are still behind the curve, judging from my discussions in Las Vegas at International CES 2013. There is also the enterprise world of desktop handsets and IP PBXes to address, but I expect that group to come into the conversation as mobile HD voice services cause a demand pull from businesses and some confusion as users encounter codec compatibility problems between the G.722 "fixed" world and the AMR-WB mobile one.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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