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HD VoIP: The Partner Advantage

By Doug Allen
July 02, 2010 - Article

If you’re wondering what the next big thing is in VoIP, wonder no more; it’s high definition. As with HD TV, the difference between a typical VoIP call and an HD call is a quantum leap in quality, or in this case, call clarity, audibility and an overall better user experience on the phone. Not exactly the kind of thing VoIP, long the butt of user scorn for its walkie-talkie-like, “best-effort” sound quality, is known for. But even skeptics say the sound quality of a proper HD VoIP sounds richer than traditional TDM calls.

IP5280 executives John Scarborough and Jeffrey Pearl decided HD would be its differentiator and proof that VoIP is about more than just "cheap long-distance."The business case for HD VoIP is simple: with higher-resolution sound, users enjoy a richer service experience, making it easier for the parties on either end of the call to clearly discern and understand each other. This leads to easier and faster communication, which in turn speeds up the overall pace of business. For example, early adopters have reported less difficulty in making out speakers with thick international accents or being able to understand people who don’t speak directly into the microphone during phone conferences through the speakerphone. Internet telephony service provider and major HD VoIP booster IP5280 Communications also cites customer testimonials from callers with hearing impairments who had trouble with their existing phones, but could hear clearly using HD phones without having to adjust their hearing aids.

Measuring the caller’s HD VoIP experience is difficult to quantify, but there clearly is a business impact. “You could certainly measure the improvement in audio quality, but that doesn’t really translate into a payback [or ROI],” said Jon Arnold, principal at consultancy J Arnold & Associates. “I think the gains are purely qualitative — it simply improves the experience. Sure, this will translate into more accurate information sharing and more efficiently completed calls, but I don’t see yet how that is quantified in a meaningful way. [But] HD makes talking on the phone more effective, and that might make customers more inclined to call, which could lead to better customer service.”

HD Is Taking Off. Why all the buzz about HD VoIP just now, when Polycom introduced the technology in 2006? While there has been growing awareness of the technology over the last few years, HD VoIP is really just starting to get off the ground now, for a variety of reasons.

For starters, the widespread adoption of VoIP throughout most of the industry, as well as the upsurge in hosted VoIP solutions and the growing role of SIP trunking for SMBs as well as the enterprise, have all laid the groundwork for high-end VoIP services. Since VoIP’s Achilles heel always has been QoS, it makes sense that as the overall market grows, so too does the need for higher-quality VoIP solutions.

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