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October 09, 2012

HD Voice Huge at ITEXPO Austin 2012 and Everywhere Else

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

Last week was a busy week for HD voice items between ITEXPO Austin 2012, Metaswitch Forum 2012, and other locations, and a lot of items have lasting significance beyond their initial announcement.

In Austin, there were not one but two Android desktop phones on display. Telefield showed off its Android phone announced over the summer along with a pair of IP handsets, with the trio supporting G.722. The RCA-branded IP150 has a seven inch touch screen and hooks into a suite of Google (News - Alert) apps, airline information services,, and a weather information widget. The company, like several others, exhibited both at ITEXPO and Metaswitch Forum.

Grandstream likewise revealed its GXP2200 Enterprise Application Phone for Android at ITEXPO West. The $239 U.S. list price desktop phone is expected to ship with its production firmware in November 2012. Features include Android 2.3; six lines with up to six SIP accounts; a 480×272 color touchscreen with multi-touch control; support for HD voice and most of the popular voice, audio, and video codecs, including G.722, AAC, H.264, H.263 and MPEG4; dual Gigabit Ethernet ports with integrated PoE; integrated Bluetooth for phonebook/data exchange and call transfer with Bluetooth enabled mobile devices plus support for Bluetooth headsets; USB and SD port for applications/photo loading and call recording; and five-way conferencing.

Add in Panasonic's Android desktop phone introduced at ITEXPO East earlier this year and it is betting question as to when Avaya (News - Alert), Digium, Polycom and snom will start showing off similar products.

One of the biggest advocates of HD voice has been 8x8. Vice President of Business Development Hue Rees said customers loved the voice quality, but interconnection remains an issue.

Image via Shutterstock

“We’ve gotten very good feedback from customers,” said Rees. “They really enjoy it, they really like the quality. But we’ve got to find a way to bridge these [HD voice] islands. It’s crazy to use the PSTN as an intermediary layer...The problem is nobody else is [inter-]connected." He said 8x8 (News - Alert) has seen little HD voice traffic coming over from Inteliquent's SIP exchange service.

The Cloud Communications Alliance says it is in the process of selecting a hardware vendor to build its SIP exchange points. CCA co-founder Dean Parker (News - Alert) expects a decision shortly so the organization can create at least three meeting points for its 13 service provider members to exchange SIP traffic. Currently, members are exchanging traffic on one-off peer-by-peer arrangements, an approach that doesn't effectively scale.

Earlier in the week, Metaswitch announced it would support a core codec set across all of its products, including AMR-WB and SILK. Dynamic transcoding between codecs would be done in software via its Perimeta Session Border Controller (SBC). The company demonstrated the latest version of its Accession Communicator mobile client using SILK and FEC to deliver a high-quality voice experience even over "shaky Wi-Fi networks," according to one executive.

Metaswitch's embrace of SILK might be the most interesting move out of the group. If SILK is there, dropping in the super-duper Opus codec at a future data is a no-brainer. If Microsoft rolls SILK into more of its products outside of its legacy Skype holdings, this could be a very good choice.

Last, but not least, Portugal mobile carrier TMN has turned up HD voice support on its network. TMN started testing HD voice in early 2011 and deployment in its home territory will likely lead to the service appearing in Portugal Telecom (News - Alert) subsidiaries in Africa, Brazil and China.

Edited by Allison Boccamazzo
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