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Cable Technology Feature Article

December 06, 2011

Will Verizon Wireless Agreement with Cable Lead To More HD Voice?

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

The implications of the Verizon (News - Alert) Wireless agreement with Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks are myriad, but one of them may be an acceleration of HD voice adoption in the consumer realm – assuming the wireless and wireline companies do more behind the scenes than simply market each other's services.

One of the hot button areas where Verizon and the cable companies have agreed to work together is in a joint venture for innovative technology to better integrate wireline and wireless products and services. In addition, the cable companies will have the option “over time” to sell Verizon Wireless (News - Alert) service on a wholesale basis.

Does this translate to agreements for both sides to seamlessly make SIP connections (i.e. phone calls) between the two networks? One would think that Verizon Wireless and the cable companies come to  an arrangement whereby a wireless LTE (News - Alert) (IP) call would seamlessly be connected with a cable (IP-based) call. 

And if that's the case, then the next step would be applying some “innovative technology” to transcode calls between the native AMR-WB wideband codec and the G.722 codec the cable companies are expected to roll out when they start offering HD voice services in the next year or two.   Certainly, the cable industry has all the network bits in place to offer HD voice on its network – it just needs to find a couple of consumer CPE suppliers it can work with.

Once you can conduct an all-HD voice session between AMR-WB and G.722. that opens up the “100 percent HD voice” marketing deal for both sides, where Verizon Wireless and the appropriate cable company offer an LTE phone for mobile service plus an HD voice solution for the home.   The possibility of this bundle also might push the FiOS (News - Alert) product management to move beyond its “digital narrowband” blinders and actually start looking at implementing HD voice rather than continue to brag about how wonderful its narrowband offering is.

Finally, there's a very interesting strategic reason why another part of Verizon would love to see a SIP HD voice bridge to the cable world. Verizon Business (News - Alert) has around two million SIP endpoints in its “cloud,” according to one estimate I've seen. Large enterprises would love to enable HD voice from end-to-end for contact centers so they can process through calls more efficiently and quickly, but you have to have a sufficient base of HD voice-enabled customers to leverage the investment in upgrades.  

Verizon Business could start with an LTE HD voice base and roll in cable HD voice companies to grow the offering.   For the cable-based HD voice consumer, being able to access HD voice contact centers becomes an added feature.

However, all of this assumes that the working relationships between Verizon Wireless and Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks actually WORK, rather than simply exist as window dressing so that the cable companies can quickly unload their wireless spectrum for cash.

Doug Mohney is a contributing editor for TMCnet and a 20-year veteran of the ICT space. To read more of his articles, please visit columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell