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Cisco makes it easier for telcos to offer HD voice over Wi-Fi

WiFi users

© Flickr/cc-licence/Sonia Carolina

We’re hearing a lot about carrier Wi-Fi at the moment (in fact, Telecom TV has produced a video feature on the business case for carrier Wi-Fi, and we have plenty of other resources on the subject, such as this interview with BT), so it’s encouraging to see vendors produce innovative carrier-grade solutions.

Cisco is pursuing the HD voice route, seeking to dispel the popular perception that voice over Wi-Fi always sounds like you’re trying to talk through a tin can. It has just released its Universal Wi-Fi solution for service providers, which it says is the industry’s first end-to-end solution featuring what it calls HDVX (High-Definition voice experience) technology that will enable Wi-Fi devices to operate as phones, providing a high-quality calling alternative that can complement cellular voice services.

“Voice over Wi-Fi marks a new era for service providers,” said Suraj Shetty, VP & GM of mobility solutions at Cisco’s service provider business group. “With HDVX, Wi-Fi becomes a truly integrated feature in the network. It is only with a universal approach to Wi-Fi and to the network that service providers can offer a superior-quality Voice over Wi-Fi experience to their customers.”

Cisco says its latest solution provides the highest available throughput over a wide area, delivering pervasive coverage indoors and outdoors with a full portfolio of 802.11ac products at speeds that can exceed 1Gbit/s. A key component is the Aironet 1570, which the company says is the most powerful and longest-range outdoor 802.11ac access point on the market. A small cell gateway enables seamless integration with the mobile packet core.

According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, it is projected that by 2018, Wi-Fi and mobile-connected devices will generate 76 per cent of all Internet traffic, up from 59 per cent in 2013, and that Wi-Fi has become the preferred mobile data experience of users based on speed, cost and coverage.

The range of human hearing covers frequencies from 20Hz to 20,000Hz [7], with speech covering 50Hz to 12,000Hz. However, traditional phone calls transfer sounds in a smaller spectrum range of around 300Hz to 3,400Hz. Consequently, it can often be difficult to distinguish certain sounds. HD voice removes this limitation by operating in a wideband spectrum from 50Hz to 7,000Hz with improved codecs.

HD voice technology is already being implemented in cellular networks. According to the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), as of September this year, 116 mobile operators in 75 countries have commercially launched HD voice services, more than 30 per cent higher than a year ago. The vast majority of them (95) are using it only over 3G HSPA networks.

Mobile HD voice for cellular uses Adaptive Multi Rate Wideband (AMR-WB) technology, although it is not clear what technology is being used by Cisco. Meanwhile, Ericsson is already investigating HD VoLTE, as defined by the 3GPP as Enhanced Voice Service (EVS).

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