At the VentureBeat Mobile Summit taking place in Sausalito California, AT&T Vice President Kris Rinne has announced that HD Voice will be heading to the network over the course of this year, finally catching up to certain European networks which have had this technology available for quite a while already. As the name implies, HD Voice offers higher-quality audio for phone calls.
I think that HD Voice is a little bit of a misleading buzzword though. After all, it’s only bringing phone call audio quality up to 50Hz – 7kHz frequency range that is not quite full definition for voice, which ranges from 50Hz to 14kHz. Having said that, the audio quality from HD Voice will be a noticeable improvement over the current standard, which is stuck between 300Hz and 3.4kHz.
Unfortunately for many U.S. consumers though, even if you’re an AT&T customer, you’ll need an LTE contract and compatible handset in order to make use of these higher quality calls. The problem is that handsets need to be built with codec compatible audio converters in order to make use of the improved frequency range. Most high-end handsets newer than the Galaxy S3 should be compatible, but you’ll have to double check with your carrier.
AT&T’s news is a little late compared with its competitors. T-Mobile has already announced that it will be offering HD Voice to its iPhone 5 customers in mid-April, so we can hope that the service will be available on other handsets soon after. Sprint also began a limited roll-out of its HD Voice program last year, which works on the Galaxy S3 but interestingly doesn’t support the iPhone 5. It’s all been a bit of a mess really, as capability ranges so widely across each carrier.
AT&T hasn’t announced exactly when this service will beging rolling out, but it will probably be a gradual release coinciding with the expansion of its LTE network.