PhotoTelephone connections have never been known for great audio quality. Traveling over copper wire, telephone audio has always operated on very narrow bandwidth.

Cell phones haven't improved audio quality but, if anything, have made it worse. Does “can you hear me now” ring a bell?

But with digital technology, telecom providers are in the process of replacing scratchy, thin voice quality with HD audio. The transformation will eventually come to landlines but it's already arriving in the mobile world.

Verizon Wireless is in the process of rolling out what it calls Voice over LTE, or VoLTE. While it has its limitations, VoLTE should provide noticeable improvement in audio clarity.


The limitation has to do with how you'll notice it. First, the call must be placed using an HD-capable Verizon phone using the 4G LTE network.

If the call is placed to a landline or someone on another carrier, or someone using a 3G phone, you won't get the HD quality. And once you've heard both, you'll be able to tell the difference.

Verizon Wireless says VoLTE vastly improves the quality of the call by enhancing clarity of the person who is speaking. At the same time, the technology reduces the background noise.

Here's an example. If you've listened to a talk radio program, you know there is a distinct difference in the audio quality of the host and that of the caller. HD audio will produce telephone quality closer to the sound of the radio host, who is sitting in a studio speaking into a microphone.

Video calls

What may be more important to some mobile customers is the video component of VoLTE. Verizon Wireless says video calling is simplified when using VoLTE technology.

The contact list in the user's phone will clearly indicate, with a video camera icon next to the name, who can receive a video call. By tapping on the phone the user initiates the call.

Suppose you don't want to receive a video call. Recipients of these calls can easily switch back and forth from video to voice only.

Again, the video side of VoLTE works exactly like the voice feature – both parties to the call must be on Verizon's 4G LTE network and be using phones enabled for VoLTE.

Advanced Calling 1.0

The VoLTE package will be a service upgrade when it is offered in the coming weeks. The package is called Advanced Calling 1.0. Verizon Wireless says HD Voice will be billed according to your existing calling plan.

AT&T also have HD audio plans in the works and may roll them out before the end of the year. Earlier this year T-Mobile said HD was available on some of its phones.

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