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Making HD Voice Happen: Choosing Codecs, Connecting Islands
So-called high-definition (HD) voice calls provide audio quality vastly superior to that of conventional calls. By transmitting twice or more the frequency range compared to traditional telephony, HD voice technology makes it easier to distinguish between similar sounds and to understand people with different accents, decreasing the need for callers to guess what others said or ask them to spell or repeat their words. The benefits are tangible: HD voice saves users time and effort.

Because of their large user bases and other factors, cable telephony and mobile operators have the greatest potential to drive HD adoption. Yet they will have to work harder to upgrade their services to HD than the pure VoIP players. Traditional telcos will have the toughest time, since their still-predominant TDM infrastructure will never support HD voice. Thus, they will only be able to adopt the technology where they have rolled out fiber infrastructure, which is a long-term, expensive effort.

In the early stages of HD voice rollout, disparate service providers will have widely varying reasons for adopting the technology. In some cases, it will provide a competitive advantage; in others, it will alleviate an existing disadvantage. Because of these different drivers, the overall telecom industry's adoption of HD voice will proceed at different speeds. But as the number of providers offering it and the level of interconnection between such providers increases, the technology will become so useful and attractive to users that they will come to expect it.

HD codecs are central to the growth of HD voice, but no one codec is best for all applications. Each comes with qualities and capabilities that amount to strengths and weaknesses in particular circumstances, which complicates life for service providers, vendors, and even codec developers.

HD voice capability will become a mandatory feature for those that can support it in the not-too-distant future perhaps as early as two years from now. Once a large provider or set of providers makes the move to HD, all the others will have to do the same, to avoid being left behind. The opening moves have already occurred in Europe, with the cellular industry taking the lead. In the U.S., cable providers may be the first large-scale movers, with initial announcements or even deployments beginning in late 2011.

Making HD Voice Happen: Choosing Codecs, Connecting Islands evaluates the potential for HD voice services growth and the role that various codecs will play in that growth. It first identifies the service providers that are best positioned to benefit from implementing HD voice and the factors that will influence their decisions. It then outlines the functions, uses, and differentiating factors of codecs, and provides a comparison of key codecs. Finally, the report surveys the efforts of 14 leading IP telephony vendors to implement HD voice in their products.

Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Table of Contents (hri0510toc.pdf)
Given the various possible uses for HD voice codecs and the multiple factors that differentiate them, it is no surprise that a bewildering variety of codecs has emerged. Whatever development and ownership arrangements companies have adopted, the proliferation of HD voice will require winnowing the number of codecs in use down to a manageable number. The following excerpt shows some codecs that have the potential to play key roles in the growth of HD voice services.
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Vendors surveyed in this report include: Aastra Technologies Ltd.; Acme Packet Inc. (Nasdaq: APKT); Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN); AudioCodes Ltd. (Nasdaq: AUDC); Avaya Inc.; Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM); Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO); Dialogic Corp.; Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC); MetaSwitch Networks, a trading name of Data Connection Ltd.; NEC Corp. (Pink Sheets: NIPNF); Polycom Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM); Siemens Enterprise Communications GmbH & Co. KG; and snom technology AG.
Total pages: 20
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