Telstra has today launched high definition (HD) voice services over its Next G network, claiming to offer clearer calls between users with compatible phones.
The service is available now over Telstra's Next G network for the compatible phones, including the Nokia 6720, E52, E72 and N8-00, and the HTC Desire S. When the Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo is launched next month, it, too, will be able to make HD voice calls. Telstra has said that there is no additional cost for the service.
HD Voice uses Wideband Adaptive Multi-Rate coding (WB-AMR), which transmits twice the range of voice frequencies as a normal voice call. According to Telstra's executive director of networks and access technologies, Mike Wright, although the call is a lot clearer, the technology uses just 12.2Kbps of data — the same amount of data as a traditional voice call over 3G.
"Traditionally, what they've done is sent the call back through the conventional telephone network, and, as it hits the first exchange in the core part, it actually gets its voice converted back to traditional narrow band bandwidth that a traditional telephone network covers," he told ZDNet Australia. "What we've done since, we've transformed the Next G network; the entire core is all IP interfaces so we don't have to go through that conversion."
Although rivals Optus and Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) have yet to implement the feature on their networks, Wright said that the telco is keen on enabling the feature to work between networks.
"I guess the best analogy is: when we first had SMS, it used to only be within networks, so as soon as there's a critical mass, we're interested in connecting customers so we would start to talk to Optus and VHA about an interworking capability, but for now, given it's only on Next G, that's all we've engineered," he said.
Wright said that the telco had decided to wait until there were enough devices that could utilise the HD voice capability, and Telstra ultimately didn't need to make a massive upgrade to the network in order to accommodate it.
"It was basically just a case of activating the software and testing it with different phones across the network," he said.