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Is T-Mobile Quietly Deploying HD Voice?
AMR-WB Technology Not the Battery Hog VoLTE Is
by johnnn 10:50AM Thursday Dec 06 2012
In recent weeks, I've been seeing signs of AMR-WB deployment into the T-Mobile macro (not UMA/Wi-Fi calling) network, based on information from my Galaxy S III's engineering mode. It looks like they're getting a jump on just about everyone in the United States with a deployment of higher-resolution voice that doesn't have the battery life concerns of IP-based voice applications like VoLTE.

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A recent study found that VoLTE technology eats smartphone batteries for breakfast. "The device's estimated battery life was reduced by 50 percent or about 252 minutes of talk time when voice calls were placed over the LTE network, compared to voice calls placed over the CDMA network," researchers found.

T-Mobile's implementation of AMR-WB should have no such problems.

If you're wondering what this all means, AMR-WB is another way of saying "HD Voice." This flavor of HD Voice is compatible with iPhone 5, and is deployed at a small enough bitrate (12.65kbps) that it can even be used over circuit-switched GSM (T-Mobile's 2G footprint). You can check out this Wikipedia entry for more detail on that.

This is the same implementation as Telstra has in Australia, where iPhone 5 already works with HD Voice enabled. Unless T-Mobile is just randomly testing the technology with no intention to deploy, this is certainly something to keep an eye on. We've reached out for comment from T-Mobile but have yet to receive a response.

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bn1221

join:2009-04-29
Cortland, NY

12 KBs?

Isn't a voice call on CDMA/1x 64Kbit channel.. How is 12KBit an improvement?
ssavoy
Premium
join:2007-08-16
Dallas, PA

Re: 12 KBs?

Given Verizon's tin-can voice quality in my area, I can't imagine it would be 64kbit.

crazyk4952
Premium
join:2002-02-04
united state
kudos:1
Reviews:
·CenturyLink
·Vitelity VOIP
·Charter
·Callcentric
·voip.ms

Re: 12 KBs?

said by ssavoy:

Given Verizon's tin-can voice quality in my area, I can't imagine it would be 64kbit.

Oh, you live in one of those areas, too? I can't stand to talk on my Verizon phone due to the poor sound quality. However, when I travel to a bigger city, it sounds fine. Stupid Verizon....

MovieLover76

join:2009-09-11
kudos:1

Re: 12 KBs?

agreed, verizon's call quality really sucked before I left this summer. T-mobile's call quality is a big improvement over Verizon in my experience.
Telco

join:2008-12-19

1 recommendation

Re: 12 KBs?

Tmobile uses full rate AMR, which is very good.

AT&T on the other hand uses 5.5 kbit/s AMR, which is the worst of any carrier.
Telco

join:2008-12-19

1 recommendation

Not at all. VZ used to use EVRC but have now gone to 4GV, which compresses the call even more. Bit rates are: 8.55, 4.0 and 0.8 kbit/s.

HD voice AMR-WB, is basically as good as skype.

AnonFTW

@reliablehosting.com
said by bn1221:

Isn't a voice call on CDMA/1x 64Kbit channel.. How is 12KBit an improvement?

T-Mobile isn't a CDMA carrier.

Guspaz
Guspaz
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-05
Montreal, QC
kudos:22
Different compression, so the bitrates are not directly comparable. Due to that, the sample rate is much more relevant. GSM and g.711 (what the landline phone network use) are 8 KHz audio. AMR-WB (G.722.2) is 16 kHz.

I wouldn't call this "HD voice" (wideband at 16 kHz is far from "HD", you'd need ultra-wideband at 32 kHz to cover the entire frequency range of human speech), but it's definitely a huge improvement.
--
Developer: Tomato/MLPPP, Linux/MLPPP, etc »fixppp.org
johnnn

join:2007-01-25
Ypsilanti, MI

Re: 12 KBs?

I agree wholeheartedly that "HD Voice" is a misnomer, but it's the phrase that Apple's marketers settled on (obnoxiously). Given its vast improvement over a typical call, I'm excited enough by it (if you couldn't tell!).

wmcbrine
213 251 145 96

join:2002-12-30
Laurel, MD
kudos:1
said by bn1221:

Isn't a voice call on CDMA/1x 64Kbit channel.. How is 12KBit an improvement?

POTS is 64Kb, but that's uncompressed, so it still sounds terrible.
--
09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

HDVoiceNews

@cox.net

Re: 12 KBs?

It's more than the bit rate; it's the sampling rate.

HD voice samples and delivers sound at 7 kHz and higher. A stock PSTN analog phone call samples/delivers sound at about 3 kHz, cutting off a lot of the upper and a bit of the lower range of sound you hear in "normal" speech.

G.722 is the baseline standard for HD voice for broadband, while AMR-WB has become the standard on mobile phones.
flyingjoey

join:2005-11-07
Jersey City, NJ

HD or HF

I always thought that HD was a term used for something you view, and High Fidelity was for sound. am I wrong here?
mgamer20o0

join:2003-12-01
Norwalk, CA

1 recommendation

Re: HD or HF

said by flyingjoey:

I always thought that HD was a term used for something you view, and High Fidelity was for sound. am I wrong here?

they will slap on hd on anything they can lol they have hd radio wh not hd voice.
Keefer21

join:2012-07-06
Hilton, NY

Re: HD or HF

Ive seen ads for HD blenders & HD interior wall paint. its hilarious!

bassjunky

join:2005-05-12
Aubrey, TX

1 recommendation

Re: HD or HF

Or 3D toothpaste!

»www.crest.com/crest-products/3D-···ste.aspx

battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000
Polycom has "HD Voice" that sounds good unless you try and use it in a noisy environment.

djrobx
Premium
join:2000-05-31
Valencia, CA
kudos:2
Reviews:
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said by flyingjoey:

I always thought that HD was a term used for something you view, and High Fidelity was for sound. am I wrong here?

HD (Hybrid Digital) radio screwed that all up.
--
AT&T U-Hearse - RIP Unlimited Internet 1995-2011
Rethink Billable.
johnnn

join:2007-01-25
Ypsilanti, MI

Re: HD or HF

What a horrible mess came from using a closed-architecture chipset (owned by "Ibiquity") to deliver 16-64kbps audio. Device support is terrible, audio quality is unusable, and stations have been terrible stewards of subchannels.

IllIlIlllIll
EliteData
Premium
join:2003-07-06
Hampton Bays, NY
kudos:7

enginerring menu

i have seen this option on my galaxy note 2 not enabled, so i enabled it but this feature is activation dependent on whether the radio tower has it as well.
currently, T-Mobile is using "Hedge" to simulate "4G" until LTE is deployed which is almost as good as LTE itself.
the LTE radio in the galaxy note 2 cannot be "turned on" even by the LTE engineering/LTE test menu until the SIM card has been updated by T-Mobile.
--
Suffolk County NY Police Feed - »www.scpdny.com
PS3 Gaming Feed - »www.livestream.com/elitedata
johnnn

join:2007-01-25
Ypsilanti, MI

Re: enginerring menu

The T-Mobile Galaxy S III firmware doesn't even allow access to the menu which allows the end user to select a particular voice codec. It's actually showing up as the codec selected by the phone for a call in the ServiceMode menu (accessible by entering *#0011#). This means that it is network-enabled.

Remember, this implementation of HD Voice does not require LTE, just UMTS. It also aligns with their strategy of being the "un-carrier," implementing features that other US-based carriers refuse to.
ssavoy
Premium
join:2007-08-16
Dallas, PA
Reviews:
·Anveo

Other issues?

Does the deployment of this have other implications? While connected to the T-Mo tower serving my house, multiple people said I sounded washed-out and they could barely hear me. Upon redialing them over VoIP on the same phone, they could hear me fine.

AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1

big "IF"

quote:
Unless T-Mobile is just randomly testing the technology with no intention to deploy,
Big IF here, maybe it was some sort of trial, or a byproduct of a patch?
--
* seek help if having trouble coping
--Standard disclaimers apply.--

BillRoland
Premium
join:2001-01-21
Ocala, FL
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cox HSI

It makes a big difference on some things

On our Cisco Call Manager system, intercom/internal calls over the VoIP network use G722 Wideband Audio and it makes a huge difference. It took some people a while to get used to because it sounded so different than what they were used to with normal PSTN calls, it sounded "too good." If only the rest of the PSTN was wideband enabled....
cyber610

join:2012-11-27
Honey Brook, PA

so its HD

ok if they call it HD there should be no cut out when u talk to someone

IPPlanMan
Holy Cable Modem Batman

join:2000-09-20
Washington, DC
kudos:1

T-Mobile to sell Apple products in 2013

It's all coming together for the iPhone 5/iPad --> HD Voice, compatible spectrum, and LTE....

»arstechnica.com/apple/2012/12/t-···in-2013/

Glad they worked something out. This kind of competition benefits consumers.

T-Mobile has returned from the brink, armed with billions in cash and new spectrum (per AT&T's merger agreement "fall-through" clause) and will be stronger than ever...

michieru
Premium
join:2009-07-25
Miami, FL

Re: T-Mobile to sell Apple products in 2013

I wonder how much T-mobile paid to have the iPhone or if they reached an agreement that allowed for a partnership for value plans to pay for iPhones.

fuziwuzi
Not born yesterday
Premium
join:2005-07-01
Atlanta, GA

Re: T-Mobile to sell Apple products in 2013

said by michieru:

I wonder how much T-mobile paid to have the iPhone or if they reached an agreement that allowed for a partnership for value plans to pay for iPhones.

Probably nothing upfront since in the same timeframe T-Mobile will no longer subsidize phones. So, you want an iPhone on T-Mobile, you pay full price for it.
--
Teabaggers: Destroying America is Priority #1

michieru
Premium
join:2009-07-25
Miami, FL

Re: T-Mobile to sell Apple products in 2013

Sounds good to me especially since T-mobile won't need to pay a fortune like Sprint did.

wmcbrine
213 251 145 96

join:2002-12-30
Laurel, MD
kudos:1

So why is this better for battery life?

It's not explained.
johnnn

join:2007-01-25
Ypsilanti, MI

Re: So why is this better for battery life?

Good question! It uses the existing circuit-switched UMTS radio interface to deliver the voice call, rather than IP-based transport.

Longer explanation:

In a typical UMTS network, the voice codec in use is based on the Adaptive Multirate (AMR) framework, which allows the base station and handset to negotiate a bitrate based on cell congestion, and encodes your voice digitally. However, the widely used AMR codec, while having a full bitrate of 12.2 kbps, only encodes sounds within the 300-3400Hz range. This new codec has a typical bitrate of 12.65kbps and encodes 50-7000Hz, so it much more closely approximates the human voice.

AMR-WB is the codec that operators are using in VoLTE deployments as well, but that transport method is much more expensive from a battery life standpoint due to increased network overhead and signalling when compared with the highly power-efficient circuit-switched UMTS air interface. (see »en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptive_M···Wideband for more)
johnnn

join:2007-01-25
Ypsilanti, MI

It's official!

»newsroom.t-mobile.com/articles/t···ncements