Korea’s SK Telecom beats Sprint to become the world’s first carrier to offer an HD Voice service

August 7, 2012
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As smartphones evolve and gain better processors, bigger displays, and faster wireless connectivity, one wonders what technology can offer to improve the quality of voice calls, an aspect that carriers don’t seem to consider a top priority. Answering the challenge, SK Telecom, South Korea’s biggest telecommunication provider, is set to be the first carrier in the world to offer HD Voice service over LTE for its 4 million LTE subscribers.

The HD Voice service will be launched tomorrow on August 8, with Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE becoming the first handset to make use of SK’s HD Voice technology. Running on an IP-based network and using high-quality audio codec, the voice calls quality will be dramatically improved, and users can expect to experience reduced latency, as well as lowered connection times.

The VoLTE service has wider frequency bandwidth than the 3G network, which means customers will be connected to the calls 20 times faster. Instead of waiting for 5 seconds, which is the average time it takes to connect a voice call over a 3G network, with VoLTE, the waiting time for the calls to be connected will be reduced to between 0.25 to 2.5 seconds.

Customers need not worry about seeing their phone bill going through the roof, as SK Telecom said that the VoLTE billing rates would be priced similarly to the carrier’s 3G voice network. The wireless carrier is hoping to bring the technology to more phones, but it hasn’t specified which device will get the necessary update. It’s only fitting that the Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE, the most popular Korean smartphone in the world, will get the first honor.

U.S. folks who are green with envy at the prospect of getting crystal clear in-call audio quality can look forward to similar HD voice service on Sprint’s 4G LTE network by the end of the year.

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