ispONE brings HD Voice to fixed broadband

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ispONE brings HD Voice to fixed broadband

Prepares for admission to mainland NBN.

Wholesale aggregator ispONE has joined the growing ranks of providers offering a high-definition digital voice product, adopting the same standard rolled out last week over Telstra's Next G network.

The industry G.722.2 standard, also known as the Adaptive Multi-rate Wideband codec, was made available to ispONE's 158 service provider customers this week as a replacement for the Engin-supplied VoIP product it had previously offered.

The codec was most notable for effectively doubling the frequency range for voice, from the traditional 3.5 kilohertz set over the first copper telephone networks as a cost saving measure, to seven kilohertz.

It also included digital noise reduction technology that provided a high quality for voice, but cancelled out noise from extraneous sources such as musical instruments or traffic.

ispONE had made the technology available over its fixed-line wholesale products.

VoIP calls made from compatible devices would automatically switch to the older G.711 VoIP codec or circuit switching when contacting non-compatible devices.

ispONE had built the product in-house using the codec, with managing director Zac Swindells pointing to the NBN as a key motivation for the product.

"The reality is, in an NBN world we need a HD Voice product," he told iTnews.

The product was being rolled out as ispONE prepared to become the third wholesale aggregator at NBN first release mainland sites.

It was due to complete on-boarding within a fortnight, providing access to customers at mainland sites Brunswick and Kiama.

While the former had been chosen for its inner city location, Swindells said he hoped Kiama would provide detail on the effect of the NBN for regional customers.

"Obviously it's a trial - you can't put too many users on - but I'd be really interested to see what's going to come through," he said.

Connections to the other mainland release sites would likely come as NBN Co automated its on-boarding process, but Swindells remained hesitant about connecting to the 121 long-term points of interconnect expected under the network.

"We're looking at an investment of about $10 million to connect to each PoI," he said.

"What happens to us in three years' time, if the Coalition does get in, and what happens if they do rollback? Can we afford a $10 million and have that as a sunken asset ourselves?"

Driving VoIP

"[VoIP] was the gold rush of the 21st century, everyone [said], 'We'll just put a $50,000 switch in and become a VoIP provider'," Swindells said.

"Unfortunately it's been to the detriment of the industry and market, and that's why the uptake hasn't been as fast or rampant as broadband has been."

The Adaptive Multi-rate Wideband codec had received limited trials internationally, with European carrier Orange rolling it out in selected countries in 2009.

Telstra recently became the first local carrier to switch on the technology for six compatible smartphones on its Next G HSPA network.

Despite the additional features, the carrier had used a similar, 12.65 Kbps bitrate to the circuit-switched telephony used for other voice calls in an attempt to minimise potential strain on the network.

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