Comcast and Verizon are likely to be among the first U.S. service providers to introduce high-definition voice features, with trials occurring as early the end of 2011, according to Doug Mohney, HD Voice News editor. and author of a new study on the subject.

Mohney says he is fairly confident at least one cable provider — most likely Comcast — will start initial residential trials of HD voice service late in 2011 or in the first part of 2012. MSOs are also expected to roll out or add HD voice as a part of their SIP trunking/hosted VoIP offerings for businesses in 2011.

ILECs and CLECs are more formally embracing HD voice for the business market. Cincinnati Bell and XO have introduced hosted HD voice service while Verizon Business has plans to announce HD voice (and video) services in the second quarter of 2011.

Verizon Wireless announced Voice over LTE (VoLTE) in 2012 and will support HD voice in the form of AMR-WB by default. AT&T expects to introduce VoLTE in 2013 so it would be surprising if the carrier did not support HD voice in its introduction, Mohney says. The company has not discussed plans to introduce HD voice on its HSPA+ network, but could do so in short order, according to one wireless vendor.

Mobile HD voice service should be available throughout most (if not all) of Europe and parts of Asia by the end of 2011. Mohny believes it will take two to three years for mobile HD voice service to be near-ubiquitous in 3G/HSPA+ networks, about the time it takes for old handsets to die and be replaced by HD voice-capable ones.

In North America, the deployment of mobile HD voice service is tied to the deployment of VoLTE, with Verizon Business introducing its service in 2012, followed by AT&T in 2013, Therefore, mobile HD voice service will be widely available in North America by late 2013.

“The biggest single headache for HD voice — and video for that matter — is the need for tier-one carrier SIP peering,” said Mohney. But it might be fair to say there are a number of practical obstacles.

Demand for high-definition TV sets, for example, depends on availability of HDTV programming, which doesn’t get produced in quantity until there are large numbers of sets in use. In much the same way, videoconferencing devices used by consumers often have to be bought in pairs, since the application requires new terminal equipment. Much the same issue once was faced by users of facsimile machines or email addresses.

Also, aside from the issue of “who can you talk to?” there is the revenue model. So far, HD voice mostly has been a feature, not a product. Given that there are clear costs to enable end-to-end communications across network boundaries, the costs are clear, but the revenue is not. Nor is the matter of SIP peering confined to HD voice. There is the whole issue of revenue streams associated with current inter-carrier interconnection and compensation to be dealt with.

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