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CES Feature Articles

January 09, 2013

Transitioning from Circuit Switched Legacy Phones to IP-based HD Telephony

As the industry slowly phases out the traditional circuit switched landline telephones in favor of IP-based voice over IP (VoIP) telephony, a new era is emerging. It is now a time of end-to-end packet switching and telephones are quickly becoming high definition (HD).

“Just like the transition from analog to digital television brought us HD TV, the big benefit to moving from analog telephony to digital would be HD telephony,” reports IEEE Spectrum’s (News - Alert) Senior Associate Editor, Steven Cherry.

Speaking of HD telephony, IEEE Spectrum’s Cherry got a good demonstration of such a telephone at this week’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES (News - Alert)) in Las Vegas. A company displayed its product called UrbanHello which Cherry says is “the first HD phone I’ve seen, one of the first ever.”

According to the IEEE Spectrum report, the HD phone is basically a cordless handset that can communicate with any base station that adheres to the DECT (News - Alert)-GAP standard. Consequently, as per the report, if the base station is part of a home’s analog (PSTN) phone network, it just works as another handset. However, if the base station is digital and uses the emerging CAT-iq standard then the UrbanHello unit will make an HD-quality call, wrote Cherry. Interestingly, the report indicates that the HD phone's keypad is nicely concealed in the base of the product.

Per Cherry’s explanation, the sound quality of the phone is very good even under noisy conditions of CES. Consequently, the report indicates that a HD phone is a big step-up in comparison to a lousy speakerphone of a traditional landline phone.

UrbanHello has already won a CES 2013 Innovations Award. And even though networks are not all IP yet, it’s good to see someone getting the ball rolling, Cherry concluded

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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