I’ve written about the problems and some of the solutions to the use of VoIP before.
Now a new yet old standard, Wideband Audio, may turn out to be one of the best solutions so far.
We’ve all heard of high def [HD] TV but did you know about HD Voice?
HD Voice, a Polycom product line designation, is based on an ITU [International Telecommunications Union] standard called Wideband Audio that goes back to 1987.
In a nutshell most phone networks and handsets are limited to the 300-Hertz [Hz] to 3000 Hz range. Unfortunately, the human voice extends from 80-Hz to 14,000-Hz.
Wideband Audio increases the telecommunications network capability to go even beyond 14-Hz all the way up to 20,000-Hz.
The good news is as the telecom transitions to Internet telephony the network is no longer limited to 3000-Hz. The bandwidth limitation in theory goes away.
The simplest way to understand the difference between talking over a device whose audio performance is set at 3000-Hz versus one that is say, 7000-Hz is by reminding yourself of the difficulty in understanding whether or not the person you are listening to was using a word that began with "F" or with "S".
Was it "heard your kid was failing" or "heard your kid was sailing, in college"?
Other sound combinations that are hard to distinguish include "G", "K" "T", "P", "D", "B" and "M", "N".
Making those distinctions has become a lot more important in recent years for a number of reasons.
As companies go international people are finding that they need to work with more and more non-native English speakers. In addition, the ubiquity of conference calls combined with the level of reverberation over speaker phones creates another set of audio problems.
To get a better understanding of Wideband Audio and Polycom’s efforts in this area I spoke with Jeff Rodman, the Voice CTO at Polycom.
For your information, Rodman, along with his team, is credited with inventing the Polycom speaker phone.
Some Polycom speaker phones and handsets are already supporting the standard at 7000-Hz.
Rodman says the difference in voice quality between 3000-Hz and 7000-Hz is major: ithits you in the face," he told me.
For private corporate networks, Wideand audio is already deployable. There are PBX manufacturers, VoIP service providers, and handset and speaker phone vendors like Polycom making products that work at 7000-Hz.
Rodman says that the Internet telephony service proivers are in fact forming a coalition to create SIP trunk connections between them because they recognize that as smaller players in a huge telecom industry they need to differentiate and gain scale.
Perhaps another unintended consequence will be to push the major telecom carriers into adopting and deploying Wideband Audio more quickly.