Orange to trial HD voice in the UK

The technology, which provides more natural-sounding audio by using a wideband codec, has already been launched in Moldova

Mobile operator Orange will begin a three-month trial of its mobile high-definition voice service in the UK during the spring.

The test, announced on Sunday, follows a commercial launch of the mobile HD voice service in Moldova in September 2009. The technology was first introduced by Orange for its fixed-line services in France two years ago, then in Poland, and is now coming to mobile handsets.

HD voice technology uses a codec called adaptive multirate wideband (AMW), which uses a frequency range of 50-7000Hz. This allows for clearer and more natural-sounding audio transmission than standard cellular voice transmission, which uses a frequency range of 300-3400Hz.

According to Orange's devices chief, Yves Maitre, consumers involved in the trial will be issued with dedicated handsets, as HD voice requires alterations to the phone's chipset, speaker and microphone.

"This [new technology] will be extended step-by-step across all our handset portfolio," Maitre said. "During the first half of 2010, we will have more than eight HD voice devices."

In addition, Orange plans to begin mobile HD voice services in France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Spain in 2010. It also intends to extend HD voice over VoIP, which is already available to its French customers, to Poland and Spain during the year.

In the UK, mobile operator 3 also intends to roll out HD voice services during 2010.