France Telecom pinning its colours to the HD mast- where is everyone else?

POSTED BY Global Administrator
It's pretty hard to develop an entirely new business model in any industry (though several seem to have done in the beloved telecoms industry through VoIP) but surely there aren't too many more out there?

France Telecom, alone among European incumbents, is pretty convinced that high definition voice services is one such untapped business model, and has launches planned in France, Luxembourg, Spain, UK, Belgium and Moldova in 2010. The UK trial for mobile HD voice was to start from the spring of 2010, in other words now. Other companies that are rumoured to be looking into HD voice are 3UK and Telenor, though I suspect that this could be wishful thinking by bloggers with vested interests...

Orange highlights that HD voice is a demonstration of an innovative business model and says the service offers a level of service differentiation over European rivals. According to Orange, “High-definition voice is the future standard for mobile communication.” "Mobile HD Voice", says Orange "will herald a new era for mobile communications, providing a superior customer experience for voice calls in the UK”.

Lofty claims indeed. Personally I wonder. Though Orange says that the 2010 launch follows two years of considerable investment, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was expected to host several other European operators launching mobile HD plans. No other operator did so. And crucially, HD voice only works if both the caller and the called party have the same “codec” (WB-AMR in this case) for decifering the signal.

A certain scale must surely be achieved before it really works at all. On the handset side, Nokia has one HD voice handset currently in operation with France Telecom. Sony Ericsson appears to be the only other major manufacturer to support the HD voice standard AMR-WB in its handsets.

Still, I might be a skeptic, but then, who would have forseen the success of SMS... or sliced bread, for that matter....