I'm down here in New York City attending Jeff Pulver's HD Communications conference and will be blogging from here on and off throughout the day where the first speaker just touched on what I think is to be the biggest challenging facing HD voice.
HD voice is one of those things that until you're using the technology you can't really appreciate just how much of a difference it makes.Suddenly those muffled sounds, thin voices, or garbly words aren't there. Talking on the phone becomes a huge pleasure.
With that said, there are major challenges facing HD voice adoption and suprisingly little has to do with the VoIP handsets. Today, you can buy an HD voice handset from a large number of vendors, Siemens, Snom, Polycom and Audiocodes are just a few of the vendors. Software clients are also available, take Skype for example.
What's missing though is a way to enable HD users to call one another. HD quality only works if HD is maintained all the way through the connection. This requires HD carriers to peer with one another directly and not over the PSTN. Today, only about two percent of VoIP traffic is peered. The overwhelming majority traffic is exchanged over the PSTN.
Not surprising there's been a call here for creating an HD peering group that would encourge carriers to exchange traffic with one another direclty and not from across the PSTN. Good luck. Getting service providers to open their networks have never been easy and its going to be a long haul yet again. The group will need to work out the economics of cross charging and how that will be handeled. The bigger telephony service providers will need to see a way to protect their existing customers base if HD peering is to be successful.