HD Voice and O2 Out in the Cold

HD Voice is the name given to a feature which offers Wideband call quality through your mobile. Mobile networks haven’t exactly been all over this because I suspect of the largely falling call volumes across their networks due to the increasing prevalence of smartphones and apps like Skype and WhatsApp but does that mean they should stop trying?

A couple of weeks’ ago, Vodafone announced that they have been rolling out HD Voice on their network leaving O2 UK as the only network in the UK to not offer this now?

The reason networks had been slow on the uptake of Wideband call quality was previously due to the lack of handset support but gone are those days so there really is no excuse now for the networks but what with O2?

Well Engadget spoke to O2 (http://www.engadget.com/2014/09/11/vodafone-enables-hd-voice/) and they have said that they have no plans at all to implement HD Voice.

To me, this is like a kick in the teeth to anyone who actually cares about making phone calls. I know that the anomaly that is picking up the phone to someone gets rarer and rarer as more people use mobile apps to call either other or more commonly, message or chat to each other by other means, but O2’s statement really tells you that they no longer care about calls. O2 obviously seem to only be interested in pushing packets these days so if you like making calls and talking to people, find another network.

Whilst I’ve just slated O2 above, I should point out that no network is perfect. O2 after all have just recently added support for Windows Phone Visual Voicemail, the first network in the UK to do so, however the problem I observed with this is that it only works on phones with an O2 ROM image and my old Lumia 820 from O2 shipped with a carrier unbranded ROM so doesn’t get the feature.

The one thing that I haven’t been able to find out is whether HD Voice works between networks as well as within. Back in 2012, Orange claimed a network of a HD Voice call between countries (http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/network-wifi/3406390/orange-claims-first-hd-voice-call-between-two-countries/) but from the wording of the article, it would seem that this was entirely within their own network. I suspect that it does work inter-network as well as intra-network otherwise it’s really a bit pointless.

If you want to hear the difference between narrowband and wideband HD Voice audio, check out this BBC News article which has a little audio clip comparing the difference at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/legacy/thereporters/rorycellanjones/2010/09/hd_voice_-_can_you_hear_me_now.html/.

Comparing the Cost of Windows Phones in the UK

In an angry come jealous state, my wife Nicky today upgraded her O2 contract and got herself a HTC HD7. My contract is due for upgrade at the end of October, so I have another week and a bit to wait before I had upgrade.

In my current agreement with O2, I have a very tidy deal going on thanks to my employment from Xerox which grants me 30% discount on the monthly line rental, however my sources on the O2 Customer Forums tell me that this deal doesn’t exist any longer, so I’ve set out to compare my current plan with some plans on O2, Vodafone and Orange which are of interest – Interest being defined in this case by price and value for money, which is in turn determined by the inclusive allowance of each contract.

As you will see from the above PowerPoint WebApp slide, my current package weighs in at an 18 month overall cost of £585, while if I upgrade to what O2 will recommend me in it’s place, the Smartphone 45, I will be spending a whopping £810 instead, meanwhile Vodafone come out on-top with the Vodafone tariff at £35 per month weighing in at a somewhat mild £630 over 18 months.

Sure, I could save £5 per month on all of these networks by switching to 24 months, but having to wait 18 months for the next iteration of phone is dire enough.

If Tesco Mobile started to sell Windows Phone 7 devices, I would probably jump over there to get a 12 month contract – Something of a rarity these days.