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Vodafone gets HD voice, makes callers sound human

James Temperton
12 Sep 2014
EE, O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Three, Vodafone logos
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O2 is now the only UK network not to support high-quality calls on its 3G network as Vodafone joins EE and Three

Nearly 20 years after comedian Ernie Wise made the first mobile phone call on its network Vodafone has now added HD voice, making callers sound more like humans and less like they're talking next to a waterfall inside a cave.

Less misleading known as wideband audio, HD voice is available now on Vodafone's 3G network on all compatible handsets. The technology is nothing new, however. EE (Orange and T-Mobile) and Three have offered it since 2010. That leaves O2 as the only UK network without HD voice.

Nearly all current smartphones are compatible with HD voice, so most customers should start to notice improvements in call quality.

Traditionally mobile phone calls use a very narrow frequency range of about 300Hz to 3,400Hz. As the human voice is between 80Hz and 14,000Hz, the quality of mobile phone calls is notoriously poor. HD voice or wideband audio goes from 50Hz to 7,000Hz, finally making mobile phone calls sound more human.

Wideband also doubles the sampling rate of calls from 8,000 to 16,000. A higher sampling rate means that sound waves from a call are captured more recently, again making callers sound more human.

"When you're on the call, you'll get a wider range of voice tone, so the voice will sound more like the person you're actually speaking to, and less of a digital version of themselves. HD Voice filters out background noise too, so if you're stood in a noisy environment like a busy street, you'll be able to hear people's voices more easily," explained Andrew Rosser, project manager at Vodafone.

Customers don't need to do anything to start using HD voice, with the feature now active on the Vodafone network across the UK. HD voice is only available in 3G areas, for a full list of compatible handsets click here.

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