Orange claims major benefits from HD Voice
Customer satisfaction reaches 90% as carrier goes live in France
Published: 25 November, 2010
The jury is still out on HD Voice and whether it will provide real user value, and few operators have yet committed to it. The main exception is Orange, which is an enthusiastic supporter, and the carrier claims the service gets customer satisfaction ratings of 90%, helping boost ARPU and reduce churn.
The operator's French network now supports HD Voice, joining its units in the UK, Belgium, Armenia and Moldova (its first market, which went live in September 2009). It has also begun roll-out in Spain (so far in Catalonia only) and Egypt (starting in Cairo, the first HD Voice service in Africa), and will expand to Switzerland, Luxemburg and the Dominican Republic in 2011.
The cellco has also announced six handsets for the offering, including the Nokia N8 and E5, the Samsung Omnia 7 and B7350, the LG-A310, and the HTC Desire HD. HD Voice claims to reduce background noise and enhance sound quality. Orange said it had conducted a survey of its customer base and found that 86% of users would actively seek out handsets with HD Voice support when changing phone, while over 70% of those who had tested the service would switch handsets to obtain it.
The operator said: "The service virtually eliminates the distance between callers so that it makes calls sound as if they're in the same room." It improves call quality with a speech codec that uses a wider frequency range, 50-7,000Hz, compared to the current narrowband speech codec, which uses a frequency range of 300-3,400Hz. The extra bandwidth required for this voice means HD voice will only be available on Orange's 3G network.
Broadcom recently announced chipsets for the technology, joining specialist silicon suppliers like BroadVoice. Google has HD capability ready for its Voice offering, following the acquisition of GIPS. And Acme Packet, specialist in session border control (SBC), believes HD voice will soon hit the mobile networks, moving out of its main base in the fixed enterprise network. Earlier this year, the supplier added new capabilities to its Net-Net SBC that allow HD voice to bridge wireless, wireline and enterprise networks.
Jonathan Zarkower, director of product marketing, commented: "HD voice is the product of wideband codecs that cover a wider frequency range, one much closer to the range of human speaking voice." With standard definition voice, it's very difficult to separate a conversation from louder ambient noise surrounding it.
Alan Hadden, president of the suppliers' body GSA, said: "HD Voice on mobile networks is taking off around the world. Several more operators are trialling or deploying the HD Voice feature on their networks. There is also a good choice and availability of HD Voice-capable phones already on the market today."