Smartphones have improved on every feature, except for call quality. In fact, making a call is probably the worst thing one can do with a smartphone. But, voice calls over LTE could change that. It’s called Wideband Audio, but more commonly referred to as HD Voice, and if your current smartphone doesn\’t have it, your next one probably will.
What is HD Voice?
HD Voice will bring users a clearer and crisper call experience with reduced background noise. The sound quality is on par with any VoIP service, like Skype. HD Voice is carried over LTE, which stands for Long Term Evolution, and is the cellular technology underpinning the major carriers’ fourth generation, or 4G networks.
Right now, most smartphone conversations are carried over older CDMA technology, often referred to as 3G, which in its simplest form, allows for multiple transmitters to send data over one channel at the same time. This way, carriers can have multiple customers on the same frequency, because the technology uses a specific code for each device, allowing for others communicating on the same radio frequency to be weeded out.
How Does It Work?
Unlike CDMA, HD Voice will utilize wideband audio technology, allowing for a wider frequency range than currently available. Wideband Audio uses a frequency range of 50hZ to 7kHz, compared to 300Hz to 3.4 kHz, with traditional audio. This new range is large enough to cover the range emitted by the human voice.
It also means that smartphones will be able to take a greater audio sample per second, bumping from 8,000 with CMDA up to 16,000 with HD Voice. This ultimately allows for greater quality and clearer sound.
Problems with HD Voice
Since HD Voice is still in its early stages of adoption, not many users actually possess the technology. Plus, for HD Voice to work, both participants on a call have to have access to the feature; otherwise, calls divert back to CDMA if someone on one end is without HD Voice capabilities.
This isn\’t too much of a roadblock, other than the fact that for the foreseeable future, manufacturers will have to ensure phones are equipped with both a CMDA radio as well as one specifically for HD Voice. However, other limitations will include the quality of the speaker and microphone on the device in use. If the sound quality for a speakerphone or microphone on a handset is already poor, even HD Voice won\’t be able to do much to save it. But, it will probably sound better than it would with standard voice technology, so it won\’t be a total loss.
Who’s Got It?
At this time, AT&T plans to introduce HD Voice this year, the T-Mobile iPhone 5 already has it, Sprint has already begun releasing HD Voice capable devices, and Verizon plans to offer it in 2014. However, this is just for the United States, since European counties have been using HD Voice for most of 2013.
It is hard to say exactly what the future of HD Voice is right now, but its slowly arriving, and some users already have it. As of right now, the Apple iPhone 5 handset actually supports HD Voice technology, but users will have to wait until their carrier supports it to test it out.