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HD audio – can it reinvent VoIP?

I had a good chat with Jeff Pulver last week. We were long overdue.  Since the beginning of the year, Jeff’s been a whirlwind announcing no fewer than 4 events in the last six months.  Among the many things we discussed was his recent HD Communications Summit.  The event itself caused a stir.  Afterward, Jeff was on fire, talking about the people that had shown up and the enthusiasm for the technology.

Anybody who has ever experienced a Skype call will identify with the benefits of wideband audio immediately.  By increasing the spectrum of audible frequencies from the extremely limited capabilities of today’s telephone systems to something more akin to an FM radio, the experience becomes more engaging and less fatiguing. 

So far VoIP has been about cheap minutes, and not much more.  The VoIP “industry” (as opposed to the communications industry) has been a giant arbitrage play pitting toll based minutes against bandwidth.  Jeff thinks that HD voice could change that.  Now others are coming around to the same viewpoint.  IDC’s Rebecca Swensen was quoted by VoIPPlanet.com saying: “Originally, cost was the number one reason businesses moved to VoIP, with features and functionality becoming a distant second and third.  Now, features and functionality are running a tight race with costs for first place.”  And according to a recent survey by Global IP Solutions, fifty-seven percent of those surveyed felt that conference calls would be the biggest beneficiary of HD Voice. 

Welcome news. 

Today’s 3Khz audio standard dates back to 1937.  In an age of crystal clear video, and concert quality audio, all streamable across digital networks, it seems inconceivable that we wouldn’t want more from the telephone. 

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Andrew June 2, 2009, 6:28 am

    Ok, now that we have got you to change your tune on HD Audio – http://saunderslog.com/2009/01/16/people-arent-cl… all we have to do is get you to move to a Mac and your journey toward the dark side will be complete..

    • Alec June 2, 2009, 8:56 am

      Easy there Tonto. I said in the past that people weren't clamouring for HD Audio, and finished up that piece with the following statement: Like Rich and Andy, I think audio quality is important. But we’re a definite minority.

  • Michael Graves June 7, 2009, 3:07 pm

    Wideband telephony (aka HDVoice) is but one aspect of the potential of voice as an application on an IP network. It’s the first aspect of VoIP that isn’t just the race to the bottom in cents/minute toll charges.

    Along with improved call quality we’ll be able to implement enhanced security, integration with multiple media types, and other innovative capabilities. Wideband voice is just a step in the evolution away from the current TDM-dominated PSTN.

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