In my last blog, I mentioned the fact that we have seen HD voice codecs enter the enterprise. Unless there are clear productivity improvements, though, with measureable ROI, IT managers will likely be reluctant to upgrade their existing systems. I can’t imagine an IT manager upgrading to HD capable handsets and HD capable IP-PBXs just to get HD voice. I can see that HD voice will need to be addressed for bids and RFPs for IP-PBXs, for HD-capable voice mail, for HD-capable IVR, for HD-capable conferencing and so on. This means that IT managers will use HD voice codecs over time as new systems are installed. This will take time. And they will still be islands.
But can more widespread deployment go faster? Sure it can, and it comes down to you (or me) as a consumer. The revenue we pay a mobile carrier every month is powerful. Very powerful. If a consumer started using HD voice, saw it as a differentiator and then started demanding this feature — or put another way, went to the first carrier to offer this feature — then that’s a big voice to be listened to.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start at the handset. The codec does require more DSP processing on the handset than is currently required. If the handset is reasonably priced, that is, not really more money than a premium video-enabled handset today, then we’re getting somewhere. Chipsets with wideband algorithms are available, with appropriate available DSP processing power and are getting into these handsets now. As such, from my perspective, pricing shouldn’t be an issue.
What about the network upgrades though? This is a trickier issue. There are protocols involved, so if the network supports TFO (for GSM) and TrFO (for CDMA2000) or can handle a software upgrade to support this, then the upgrade will be relatively easy.
The industry can technically do this. When then is the potential driver for installation of these HD voice infrastructure elements? It’s capturing more of your dollars, naturally.
One of the mobile operators will likely see this as a differentiator. It could be the one with the largest market share (to put pressure on the others) or it could be the upstart (to better carve out their niche). Or it could be that peer-to-peer HD voice is impacting all of them and one wants to compete better. But whatever the reason, a mobile carrier will deploy it. This operator will be The Disrupter.