• United States

Higher quality in store for VoIP

Apr 19, 20042 mins

* Wideband VoIP should lead to better quality

For over a hundred years – dropping pins notwithstanding – the quality of a phone call has not changed fundamentally.

Analog voice systems were designed to transmit sounds in the frequency range from 300 to 3300 Hertz. When digital telephony came along, the de facto standard of 64K bit/sec evolved from the technology necessary to reproduce a phone call within this frequency range.

Over the years, the primary emphasis has been to provide standard 300-to-3300-Hertz quality with fewer bits per second. This has been in reaction to widespread efforts to save money by cramming more calls into a given amount of bandwidth, rather than producing better-quality voice with the same bandwidth.

Still, the question remains whether there is a market for higher-quality phone conversations. It seems the time might be especially right for this capability in light of the extremely low (from an historical perspective) cost per bit-per-second for domestic bandwidth.

We’re about to find out the answer.

This week, IP PBX provider ShoreTel, formerly known as Shoreline Communications, is announcing its first series of IP phones. Heretofore, its IP PBX has supported a range of other manufacturers’ IP phones plus traditional analog and digital phones.

To us, the most interesting feature of the ShoreTel phones is their ability to support what they refer to as “high fidelity” voice. We’re not too sure that the audiophiles among you won’t cringe at this claim, but we’ll give it at least a “medium fidelity” label based on the specs.

To our knowledge, this is the first hi-fi (or med-fi) phone in the industry. Next time we’ll share some of the details.