After many many years of talking about higher quality speech codecs, Orange (France Telecom) is the first network operator to finally activate it in some of its 3G networks.
Having activated the Adaptive Multi Rate – Wide Band (AMR-WB) codec in Moldova about a year ago it seems they are now confident enough it works well and have decided to also switch it on in Orange UK. According to IntoMobile the devices that support the new codec with a software update are the Nokia 5230, X6, E5 and the Samsung Omnia Pro. Have a look at the IntoMobile page, there's an Engadget video that demonstrates the difference between AMR and AMR-WB. A very impressive difference!
While it may take a while before AMR-WB is widely used I can imagine that once people have experienced the difference they might just decide to switch carriers and phones when contract renewal comes up anyway to enjoy HD voice, as Orange calls it, with their most frequent and important contacts. Think wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, children, etc.
For further technical details on HD voice or AMR-WB, have a look at a number of posts I've written about the topic in the past.
4 thoughts on “Orange UK launches AMR-WB”
Yes, the HD sounded much better. But what I can say from my experience, full rate is way better than half rate and it is comparable to what I’ve heard in that engadget video…
Ok, it is the future, but in my opinion Full rate is enough…
The Orange site seems to imply that they’re implementing transcoder-free operation, too, since they state that both parties need to be on Orange.
It’s interesting that they’re not charging any more for the service, since it appears to consume four times as much bandwidth. Wonder if users get knocked back to narrow-band AMR during times of congestion.
as far as I know, transcoder free operation is a precondition for AMR-WB on 3G (see the links in the post to that topic). Concerning bandwidth consumption I would be surprised if Orange used the highest codec option and not the 12 kbit/s option which allows having an AMR-WB call on the same bandwidth as a normal AMR call.
Could Orange be as forward thinking as thinking on the lines “Soon we’ll be doing CS voice over HSPA” so the extra bandwidth is not going to be as much of an issue due to the more efficient scheduling and modulation of HSPA? Just a thought.
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