HD voice gains momentum

The past few days have seen a spate of announcements of hosted high-definition (HD) voice services, illustrating the technology’s growing momentum.

Orange, the UK’s third-largest mobile operator, caused a stir when it announced plans late last month to offer HD voice as an alternative to the scratchy service consumers have come to expect from their mobile phones. But it’s not yet clear how much extra consumers would be willing to pay for higher mobile voice quality, nor is it clear what the added bandwidth requirements of such an offering would mean for already congested mobile networks.

By contrast, HD voice’s promise seems more immediately clear in the realm of IP-based and web-based calling for businesses, which are more likely to shell out the extra cash for clear telephony. Several companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Phone.com announced a hosted HD voice service today, following Junction Networks’ announcement late last week that its OnSIP hosted PBX service now supports HD voice. Meanwhile, Ooma recently added HD voice to its consumer-focused Telo. HD-quality voice may be a sought-after differentiator for IP communications providers. My question is: How long will it be until it’s too common to be a differentiator and turns into table stakes? What do YOU think? Leave a comment below.

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