Mobile HD Voice is starting to get more mainstream support from operators around the world, according to a new report from the Global mobile Suppliers Association. However, the service is still fairly nascent in the U.S. market.
According to the GSA, 83 operators have commercially launched HD Voice services in 61 countries. The number of mobile operators now providing HD Voice service is 84 percent higher than a year ago, the GSA said and the service is now "widely available on mobile networks in all regions of the world."
HD Voice uses Adaptive Multi Rate Wideband (W-AMR) technology to improve call quality, but the voice codec must be supported in handset hardware along with two microphones and noise-canceling software. As Light Reading notes, in order for HD Voice calls to go through, both the handset making the call and the network infrastructure supporting that call must support HD Voice, of which there are several variants.
By the GSA's count, there are 76 operators supporting HD Voice on HSPA networks, four on both HSPA and GSM, one on GSM-only and two on LTE networks. The GSA also reported that the number of handsets capable of supporting HD Voice has increased by 53 percent in the last six months, and that there are now 245 HD Voice-compatible phones available from 17 vendors.
T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) has taken the lead on HD Voice in the U.S. market, launched HD Voice earlier this year across its entire HSPA network. Its 10 LTE smartphones also all support HD Voice, including Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5. Sprint (NYSE:S) supports HD Voice for certain devices, including the HTC One, but not yet on a nationwide basis.
AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) in April reaffirmed its plans to launch HD Voice service on its LTE network sometime this year. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has indicated it will first launch Voice over LTE with Rich Communication Service technology, and then HD Voice. Verizon has said it will launch its first VoLTE handset in the fourth quarter, with a wider commercial launch of VoLTE in the first half of 2014.
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