Light Reading

Sprint Says HD Voice Now in 100 Markets

Dan Jones
4/29/2014
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NEW YORK -- Sprint CEO Dan Hesse says that the operator's high-definition Voice service is now available in 100 markets in the US and is ready to go nationwide in the middle of the year.

Sprint has previously seen delays with HD Voice, but it has revealed launches in a few markets. Hesse's latest comments track with what he said in March about a wider launch in July for the CDMA-based service. (See Sprint's Hesse: HD Voice Goes Nationwide in July , Sprint Commits to Tri-Band, HD Voice Phones, Sprint Bringing Spark to Kansas City, and Sprint Delays HD Voice Launch to Q2.)

HD Voice increases the clarity of a voice call across seven octaves, as opposed to the four octaves that many current smartphones support. The system also reduces background noise on calls.

Viewing HD Voice

Sprint implements the EVRC-NW (narrowband-wideband) codec for HD Voice. It uses dual-microphones and an upgraded voice coder (vocoder) on the devices. The HD upgrade also requires new software at the mobile switch for a "transcoder-free stream" over the network, according to Stuart Patt, a spokesman for Sprint. The HD stream is about 6 or 7 Kbits, according to Patt.

The operator uses its 3G CDMA bands at 800 MHz and 1,900 MHz for HD Voice. It expects 20 million customers to have HD Voice-enabled phones by yearend.

Light Reading tested out the difference between a Sprint HD call and a standard call on a Verizon handset at the event. Sprint ran a call over the handsets, and Patt switched between the two. We were assured the test was 100% live. The HD Voice call sounded more lively, with a bit more treble and bass and a less tinny sounding end on the caller's voice.

Sprint says that more than 20 devices can now support HD Voice. The HTC One M8 Harmon Kardon edition will be HD Voice compatible device when it launches May 9.

Sprint users will need a HD Voice-compatible device to take advantage of the sound upgrade, and Sprint's flavor of HD Voice cannot be used across different carrier networks.

Patt suggested that -- even given the somewhat limited nature of the service at the moment -- the improved voice quality could be a incentive for people or families buying on Sprint's "Framily" plan.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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Phil_Britt
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Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/30/2014 | 7:04:56 PM
Re: HD voice quality?
No, not teenagers, or many "help desk" people who seem to want to get you off the phone as quickly as possible. I often have to tell both to slow down because I don't hear that fast.
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/30/2014 | 2:39:42 PM
Re: So?
sam masud - " ... did Sprint's market research show that this would give them a competitive advantage?"

Good question. Common wisdom is that voice usage is declining. People prefer to text. Is the common wisdom wrong here?
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/30/2014 | 2:38:26 PM
Re: HD voice quality?
Phil_Britt - "People who are more interested in talking than in really communicating or who race through there messages won't be understood on either the landline or HD voice."

So this won't be helpful for teenagers then. :) 
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
4/30/2014 | 2:29:46 PM
Re: So?
T-Mobile has nationwide HD Voice too. They just don't seem to talk about it much. My guess is that Sprint saw how the industry is going and wanted a HD answer even if it is tied to 3G and just a few devices.
sam masud
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sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/30/2014 | 2:10:17 PM
So?
Is this about bragging rights--or did Sprint's market research show that this would give them a competitive advantage?
Phil_Britt
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Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/30/2014 | 1:41:37 PM
Re: HD voice quality?
As long as the connection is relatively good, the voice quality would likely be indistinguishable from landlines for most -- even most landlines can have issues. Peeople who speak clearly with concerns that the speaker understand their messages will do fine. People who are more interested in talking than in really communicating or who race through there messages won't be understood on either the landline or HD voice.
kq4ym
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kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/30/2014 | 11:17:40 AM
Re: HD voice quality?
I would think the HD quality will depend greatly on the codec used to convert analog to digital. The human speaking voice doesn't need "7 octaves" or anything near that. The human voice is in a pretty small range of frequencies. But, if you want to send music over a digitial line, that's a different matter altogether. So, will the Spring HD carry sound with large frequency ranges like music successfully? I suspect not so well, but haven't been able to test that theory.
RafiMTL
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RafiMTL,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/30/2014 | 9:47:23 AM
Re: HD voice quality?
@FakeMitchWagner

HD voice quality surpasses that of landline. The best landline is still limited to a bandwidth of about 3.4kHz, whereas HD voice transmits voice spectrum in a range of close to 7kHz. It makes a big difference in intelligibility (e.g. much easier to distinguish between the "s" and "f" sounds), and it makes the speaker sound closer. Much easier to conduct a conversation in a noisy environment.
year2525
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year2525,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/29/2014 | 9:11:18 PM
Re: HD voice quality?
Hard to say as I'd be doing it from distant memory...
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/29/2014 | 7:09:36 PM
Re: HD voice quality?
How does HD quality compare with a good landline?
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