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Apple iPhone 5 Wideband Audio, the latest attempt to improve call quality

The new iPhone 5 includes support for cellular wideband audio which Apple says should deliver “crisper word clarity” as well as “more natural sounding speech”. The technology is currently supported by more than 20 mobile phone operators worldwide.

Interestingly enough, on the same day the iPhone 5 launched, Skype announced a new audio codec called OPUS which is based on SILK, its own audio codec introduced in January 2009. Opus-enabled communications, Skype says, will happen in CD quality (fullband stereo), a massive jump in quality while simultaneously using less bandwidth.

That codec has been adopted by the IETF as a fully-fledged standard and Skype hopes that the community at large will adopt Opus to improve audio and video communications across a wide spectrum of uses. Check this blog entry to find out more about Skype’s leitmotiv behind Opus (opens in new tab) and what to expect from this standard.

(opens in new tab)And, coincidentally, one day earlier, another VoIP company, Rebtel (second to Skype in the VoIP business) announced its own HD Voice solution (opens in new tab) based on an open source codec. It will ship on iOS now and Android later this year. Like Skype and Apple, Rebtel sees better call quality as the next frontier.

Before them, Orange (opens in new tab), now part of Everything Everywhere, has been working hard to implement its HD Voice solution, one which requires both parties on a call to be on Orange and with a handset equipped with the technology.

You can win an iPhone 5 in our iPhone 5 competition (opens in new tab) by answering a simple question about what generation the Phone 5 is. ITProPortal reported live (opens in new tab) on Apple’s announcement. Other than the iPhone 5 (opens in new tab), we saw new iPod devices (opens in new tab) but no cheaper version of the iPhone 4S (opens in new tab), an iPad mini (opens in new tab) and potentially a 13in Macbook Pro with Retina Display (opens in new tab).

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.