GIPS brings HD voice to Android

High-definition voice, a relatively nascent technology, is coming to the Android operating system, courtesy of Global IP Solutions (Oslo Børs: GIPS). The company is enabling Android mobile application developers to build voice-over IP-enabled clients with its VoiceEngine Mobile. Free mobile social networking application Nimbuzz will be the first customer to implement the HD technology for free mobile VoIP calls.

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To date, GIPS has focused a lot of its HD voice efforts at the enterprise where companies use the technology to retain business customers and sell new applications. The company promises to get rid of the issues often associated with VoIP, namely delay, jitter, packet loss, bandwidth constraints, noise and echo. HD VoIP enables a higher sound quality through using voice energy outside of the 3 kilohertz frequency of traditional telephone calls. The richer voice quality stems from Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) technology and the G.722 wideband codec standard.

Less reliable voice quality has traditionally been accepted as a trade off for a low-cost service, although that is beginning to change as competition has increased and expectations for mobile services in general have risen. It remains to be seen if consumers will pay for the added quality in their voice calls, but in most HD voice deployments today, they don’t have to. Cablevision subsidiary Optimum Lightpath was the first US service provider to roll out HD voice services at no additional cost as part of its hosted VoIP offering this summer.

HD voice has primarily caught on in Europe and is slowing gaining traction in the US as companies such as Siemens and Polycom build it into their devices. The technology has interesting use cases in video conferencing, which GIPS also offers on mobile, for the hearing impaired and older mobile users, as well as for government or enterprises for which sound clarity is crucial.

Even as the industry has “moved from 3G to 4G, and devices are getting smarter and smarter, one of the things that hasn’t changed – and in some cases has gotten worse – is voice quality,” said Larry Golob, vice president of business development for GIPS.

GIPS already offers mobile versions of its voice engine to developers on the iPhone and Symbian platforms. The GIPS engine gets distributed not at the device or OS level but on an application-by-application basis. At the same time, a developer can work with GIPS HD voice technology in a fairly consistent way across different platforms. “To an application developer, our API looks exactly the same and the way you interact with a sound card is the same.”

Last week, chip vendor BroadVoice said it was open sourcing its HD voice codecs: BroadVoice32 for wideband speech sampled at 16 kHz, and BroadVoice16 for narrowband telephone-bandwidth speech sampled at 8 kHz.

According to GIPS’ Golob, its voice engine includes not just HD codecs but two other key elements that handle the jitter buffer/packet loss and voice quality enhancements capabilities of the platform. “We’re codec agnostic,” he said, noting that while GIPS offers its own codec, its platform can work with other codecs as well.

– Rich Karpinski contributed to this story

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