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.