High-Definition Voice coming to Mobile phones

March 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Although the focus these days is primarily on data and smartphones, it’s exciting that Operators have continued to look for ways to communicate better, such as High Definition voice. Skeptical that improvement is needed? Try out the demo (from Orange, who is leading the charge to deploy HD Voice), check out the convincing 3rd-party evaluation, or compare Standard vs. HD audio. Not only is the voice clearer, but there is less background noise; HD Voice includes active noise reduction (similar in function to the Noise Shield(TM) feature that makes Aliph Jawbone headsets so great). The result is “Wow!” You will want to have conversations over HD Voice, as they are easier to understand, and richer, more nuanced … like a face to face conversation.

SInce Voice is still a cash cow for Mobile Operators, it is a great idea to enhance it, to assert the improved quality that you get from a Mobile Operator (vs. an Over The Top service provider, such as Skype). Now that mobile networks carry more Data than Voice traffic, it’s easy to allocate a bit more bandwidth to improved voice. The service uses a new codec, Wideband AMR (an improvement on the current AMR standard used in GSM).

Where can I get it?

As with most new mobile features/services, you will need for your Operator to offer it, and you need a compatible handset (probably a new now, in this case).

Operator Support: At last count, HD Voice is provided by 39 mobile nets, in 31 countries. Orange has been leading the deployment (including pushing the standards development), delivering HD Voice in many of its European and Middle East properties.

Handset Support: Only a few handsets currently support HD Voice, so you’ll have to look carefully. It has been rumored to be a feature of the new iPhone 5 (but, then, what new capability has not been rumored to be in the new, iPhone 5?).

Caller needs it, too: Both Caller and Called must have this feature, for it to work at HD voice quality (see Engadget demo). Makes sense, however, as it is an end-to-end service. Like a Skype video call, both parties need it for it to work, end-to-end.

Tariff: Orange does not charge anything more for this feature, interestingly. It simply establishes Orange voice as a superior service, and encourages callers to use Orange to call their family & friends with HD-capable phones. Nice move.

Soon, you will be able to enjoy HD Voice as more handsets and networks support this important, new feature.

Trend towards Improved Communication

Since mobile phones have become the primary phone that people use–replacing fixed/wireline/VoIP phones–they are incorporating the best features of wireline service:

Done: Caller ID, Call Waiting, Voice Mail, Three-way calling, etc.
Deploying: Calling Name (see related posts)
Coming: High-quality Voice


Sighted!!! Wireless Calling Name

October 23, 2008 at 2:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Wireless CNAM just launched in the US, so each of us is a bit closer to the availability of the most popular wireline feature on our wireless phone. As previously discussed, this feature has been available to mobile operators for over 5 years, but operators are just warming up to delivering it. MetroPCS just launched the service to their 5 million subs (see their press release, and some press coverage from WirelessWeek here and a story on the official release, below), so we can hope that as people try it and like it, other operators will turn up the service, too. 

Previously, T-Mobile included Calling Name for @Home subs (for wired phones attached to their @Home router, not for mobile subs). And a watered-down version of Calling Name was offered by Verizon Wireless, but it doesn’t seem to be of much value (so why bother?): it provided the Caller’s City and State. Big deal. I don’t want to have to guess at the identity of the caller, I want to know exactly the Caller’s Name to decide if I need to answer the call on my mobile. Kudos to MetroPCS for bringing this feature to market!

Here’s a clear description of the benefits of this service, from their press release:

“MetroPCS … launches Screen-it, a service that displays the calling party’s name on a subscriber’s wireless phone. Screen-it allows consumers to more successfully manage incoming calls to their phone by seeing the caller’s name before answering the call. Call screening is drastically improved when unknown caller names are shown that are not already stored in the phone’s personal contact list. 

Consumers and businesses rely on a name and number to identify the caller. Automatically matching a name to the incoming telephone number and displaying it on a callerID device or on the phone has been a common feature of landline telephones since 1984. This feature has never been available on wireless phones in the United States. With Screen-it, for the first time wireless consumers will see the name of who is calling them before they answer the call, even if it’s an unknown caller. 

“The new Screen-it service is a core part of MetroPCS’ landline replacement strategy as it offers our customers the same standard features that they enjoy on the landline telephone,” said Tom Keys, chief operating officer for MetroPCS. “Being the first to introduce this service demonstrates MetroPCS’ commitment to providing the best wireless service to its customers.”


MetroPCS Launches Next-Gen Caller ID

By Evan Koblentz

WirelessWeek – October 16, 2008

MetroPCS is putting a new twist on traditional Caller ID. The contractless carrier’s new service, Screen-it, is intended to display a caller’s name and number, when available, even if it appears as “unknown” to the regular Caller ID service. “This feature has never been available on wireless phones in the United States,” the company said in a statement today. Names will remain hidden if callers choose to block that information. Screen-it will be included in MetroPCS’ $50 per month service plan and available for $2 per month with the $35, $40 and $45 plans.

Ensuring Calling Name delivery

October 10, 2008 at 4:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Oddly, I had some difficulty in getting Calling Name to work right on my @Home installation. Fortunately, to reproduce the wireline Caller ID service that includes Calling Name, T-Mobile provides “true Caller ID” that includes Calling Name and so I expect to get the same experience as I have on a wireline telephone: reliable delivery of calling party number and name. Unfortunately, the Calling Name component has not been working right. I was getting Calling Name info on some calls and not getting Calling Name on others, with no discernible pattern.

Solution: Customer Care finally fixed the problem: they transferred me to @Home Tech Support, and they found that my Calling Name service somehow was not activated. (May have had to do with the fact that my number did not port over correctly, but I doubt that). They did a couple of things, but the last one did the trick: they first (1) rebroadcast that my telephone number had been ported to T-Mobile (in case Qwest still thought that they owned it) and (2) reprovisioned my Calling Name service. Then, they called me back at a later time to ensure that the fix worked. Let me repeat that: They called Me to ensure that the fix worked, and that all was well – when have you received that service?!?

Nice job, T-Mobile Customer Care!  😀

Want to know the Name of Callers? (on your mobile handset)

September 22, 2008 at 4:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Like to know the name of the people who are calling you? I do!
If you want this feature, your mobile operator can deliver it,
and they’d like to hear from you!

Recently, I noted that it’s possible to deliver not just the Number, but the Name of the caller, just like on your wireline service. Just like on your @Home service. It’s possible: you just have to ask for it. 

This service is already available (for over 5 years), and mobile operators have held off on delivering it. Recently, Verizon Wireless started delivering a pale version of this, providing city and state info on the caller (in addition to the number). Personally, I want to know the caller’s name, and I gladly pay for this feature on my wireline service. If you want Calling Name delivery on your mobile, tell your mobile phone company! If you ask for it, then can deliver it (that’s what we’re all in business for: satisfying the end customer).

Caller ID includes Calling Name

September 22, 2008 at 3:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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@Home delivers “True Caller ID” that includes Calling Name Display. Nice!

I had a narrow (and, apparently, aged) view of the Caller ID feature. Originally, there was a distinction between Calling Number and Calling Name display (Caller ID preceded Calling Name, and display of Name was sold as an enhancement to the display of the calling party number). (Note: Just to date me, I worked at AT&T Bell Labs when we first designed and introduced these features that utilized the new, out-of-band signaling system). Now, there appears to be no distinction and Caller ID includes Calling Name (see attached definition, from the Qwest web site). Since @Home seeks to provide you with wireline-equivalent features, it includes all of the basic features, even voice mail (see the demo here).

Now if only they would deliver Calling Name to my handset!
It’s readily available, and even starting to appear in the marketplace. (Full disclosure: the company that I work for, VeriSign , actually delivers the Calling Name service for @Home, and the same solution can be delivered to your wireless phone, too – the mobile operators are just unsure if subscribers really want it on their phone). Technically, you can receive the same quality of Caller ID (including Calling Name) that you receive on your wired phone. If you want Calling Name delivery on your mobile, tell your mobile phone company!


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