Orange HD Voice calling goes live

Orange has officially launched its HD Voice service in the UK, as promised, on Wednesday after successful trials since June.

The new service, which it's expected other operators will quickly move to copy, aims to improve the quality of the call, making it sound more natural.

The new service will require you to have a 3G connection and more importantly a HD voice-enabled handset; currently a handful of Nokia and Samsung handsets.

We got to test the HD Voice service back in June and in a comparison call against normal (current) calling the difference is not only obvious, but quite exciting. You probably take it for granted that calls on your mobile sound a particular way - it's something that we've all got used to over the past 15 years of mobile phone use.

But we found HD Voice to be clearer, eliminating background noise and making the voice more distinct, but more importantly, it sounded much more natural. Amusingly, we used those words to describe the experience before we'd seen the marketing spiel, or the video above.

There are two components to HD Voice, as it is a service that will come from your handset and the mobile phone network. The system actually works by using a new codec - WideBand-Adaptive Multi Rate (or WB-AMR). This widens the bandwidth of the call from the current 300-3400MHz to 50-7000MHz.

Best of all the HD Voice service will be an improvement to the network you already know, so it will be a value-added feature and won't cost you a penny.

Of course, you'll only benefit from the service if you are on Orange and if you have an HD Voice-capable handset, although Orange previously told us that there would be improvements with just one HD handset.

You won't need to update your phone's software as it's a network upgrade rather than a handset one.

Orange HD Voice is available at no extra cost to all Orange mobile customers who take a HD Voice enabled handset. From launch, the Nokia 5230, Nokia X6, Nokia E5 and Samsung Omnia Pro will be HD Voice enabled with further manufactures expected to offer HD handsets in the coming months. All HD Voice enabled handsets will be labelled with the Orange HD Voice logo, helping customers to easily recognise those devices that support the new Orange HD Voice service. HD Voice demonstration units will also be available in Orange shops.