The move to HD voice has officially begun.
The HTC EVO 4G LTE will be available in the second quarter for $199.99, the company said. However, it could be many more quarters before the rollout of nationwide 4G LTE networks is complete and large numbers of people benefit from better sound quality.
For anyone who has struggled to understand the person at the other end of a mobile phone conversation, high-definition voice could transform their relationship with their wireless carrier by providing much clearer, more natural sound. Background noise will also be reduced, as demonstrated in this video about the introduction of HD voice in the United Kingdom by Orange, a wireless carrier, one and a half years ago.
HD Voice is made possible thanks to IP telephony, also known as VoIP, which carries more information about each call and the rollout of better compression algorithms.
The ability to carry HD voice will be built into new 4G LTE networks.
Other networks can be upgraded. For example, Sprint is planning to deliver HD voice over its enhanced 3G network over CDMA 1X Advanced technology. The company said the network will be ready in late 2012.
A number of other HD voice offerings are on deck. Comcast recently said it would offer HD voice to current subscribers of its VoiceEdge phone service for businesses. MetroPCS and C Spire Wireless are expected to announce HD-voice service this year. Verizon said in a statement that it would roll out HD voice in 2013, as soon as its 4G LTE network is complete. AT&T is working toward offering HD voice in 2013 or later.
The problem with HD voice is that both parties to a call must be using HD voice-enabled devices on HD voice-enabled networks—and those networks must be compatible—for either party to benefit from improved sound quality. Realistically, it will be years before dramatic improvements in voice quality are widespread.
People who place a premium on better sound quality, however, should hear a difference in calls by the end of the year provided they upgrade to new HD voice devices and networks.
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