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HD Voice to Get Solid Play at Mobile World Congress

Next week should be crazy with HD voice news coming out of Barcelona at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2013. GSMA plans to promote the technology as a part of its rich communications innovation area at the show (Congress Square CS 80 if you'll be there), with live demonstrations and presentations by Deutsche Telekom, Head Acoustics, Orange (News - Alert) and Samsung. And we haven't even started talking about the slew of press releases discussing new handsets, new chips, and other goodies designed to complement the handset.

Here in the U.S., the only mobile carrier currently supporting HD voice is T-Mobile USA. AT&T revealed it would be supporting Voice over LTE (News - Alert) (VoLTE) in the second half of this year. AT&T could choose to support HD voice over its existing HSPA-esque network, but it has so far shied away from suggesting such a possibility, muttering things about not having enough bandwidth.

VoLTE junkies who have wondered why Verizon Wireless has been laggard in rolling out the service on its network may want to stop by Telefonica's (News - Alert) booth to talk about SRVCC - Single Radio Voice Call Continuity. SRVCC enables phone calls to be transferred between 3G and LTE networks seamlessly using a single radio, reportedly part of the big hang-up Verizon Wireless was having in getting VoLTE to work to its standards.   Telefonica recently demoed SRVCC in its German lab, with using equipment from Acme Packet (News - Alert), Ericsson, Huawei, NSN, Qualcomm and Sony Mobile.

GSMA's efforts next week will include promoting its trademarked HD voice logo for use by carriers and handset vendors. Sony used the logo in promoting its Xperia T handset this fall and I won't surprised if Samsung starts using it on the new phones it will showcase next week. ZTE should be a likely candidate to adopt the logo, given its featuring of HD voice among its announcements last year.

Moving from the handset to the component level, I've already seen a bunch of pre-show announcements. NXP Software and Tensilicia are highlighting their relationship putting NXP's VoiceExperience software on Tensilicia's HiFi Audio/Voice DSP family. Acoustic Technologies and Maxim Integrated are also planning a demonstration using Acoustic's HD noise cancellation technology with Maxim's MAX98096 audio silicon.

Moving into the mobile CPU arena, ST-Ericsson (News - Alert) is banging the drum for its NovaThor 8580 combo processor/LTE modem platform running quad processors at a smokin' three GHz clock. The new chipset supports a kitchen sink of LTE and GSM standards, including LTE downlink speeds of 150 Mbps and HD voice.

Will there be a "big" HD voice announcement at MWC? I don't think so, but I'm willing to bet on a large quantity of HD voice news as handset manufacturers continue to feed carriers better phones and carriers continue to build LTE networks around the world.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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