High definition (HD) voice calling is a term used to describe a phone technology that reduces background noise while supporting a wider audio band or broader octave scale. This results in crisper, clearer, and more natural sounding calls. While most mobile service carriers offer HD voice calling, it is also a feature of the best voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) systems.
How HD Voice Calling Works
HD voice calling works by compressing audio content on one end and decompressing it on the other. It then transmits audio frequencies ranging from 50 Hz to 22 kHz using a long-term evolution (LTE) data network or over your internet connection. The latest technologies include voice over long-term evolution (VoLTE), which uses a 4G or 5G LTE network to increase data speed and call quality.
By comparison, traditional analog phone lines are only able to transmit audio frequencies ranging from 300 Hz to 3.4 kHz over copper wires. This makes a difference in terms of sound quality because the human voice range is 80 Hz to 14 kHz. Therefore, standard phone lines can’t capture all voice pitches.
However, HD voice calling isn’t available on all devices or phone networks, and to make an HD voice call, you’ll also need:
- A cellular service or VoIP business phone system that offers HD voice calling
- A minimum network bandwidth of 120 kbps
- Cell phones or desk phones with HD voice capabilities
In some cases, you’ll need to contact your mobile carrier to enable HD voice. Furthermore, HD voice only works when both the caller and recipient use HD voice-enabled services and hardware. That said, the combination of HD voice and active noise-canceling technologies enhances sound quality, meaning conversations across the country or world sound like you’re talking to a person just a few feet away.
Cell Phone HD Voice Calling Providers
Almost all major cell phone providers, including Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, U.S. Cellular, and Sprint, offer HD voice calling. In addition, HD voice calls are usually treated as regular audio calls for billing purposes, so there should not be additional charges for this feature.
However, some features, like HD video, use your cellular data, so you must enable this setting on your phone. It’s typically under your app settings via advanced calling or VoLTE/LTE buttons. All newer mobile phones are HD-compatible. Devices include iPhone 6 or newer models and Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S7.
Business Phone Systems HD Voice Calling Providers
HD voice calling is not yet a universal feature of VoIP business phone systems. Therefore, if high-quality audio sound is important to you, you may need to specifically ask about it when shopping for a new service. In addition, your office will also require desktop phones or smartphones that support HD voice calls. Lastly, you need high-speed internet access for each device for the best call quality through wired or wireless connections.
Some examples of providers offering HD calling include:
RingCentral is a communication and collaboration business phone system. It uses an OPUS codec for HD voice, which ensures clarity even for users with limited bandwidth. Plans provide a toll-free number, voicemail-to-text, and call handling features. You also get unlimited text messaging and calls.
The VoIP provider sells a full-line of HD voice phones either for a one-time fee or as a monthly rental. Or you can check your current phone’s compatibility to see if it’ll work for HD calling. Pricing starts at $39.99 per user, per month, but that price drops to $29.99 with two or more users. You can save up to 33% with an annual payment and take advantage of RingCentral’s 15-day free trial.
8×8 is an all-in-one communications platform providing unlimited HD voice and video calls. It comes with unlimited texting, intelligent call routing, and an auto-attendant. From your 8×8 dashboard, you can join video meetings or send chat messages to co-workers. The application works on desktop and mobile phones. 8×8 plans start and $12 per user, per month, and the company offers a 30-day free trial.
Nextiva is a business VoIP phone system offering HD audio and video features. Plans provide unlimited voice calling, internet fax, and peer-to-peer video calling. You get a toll-free number, auto-attendant, and hold music. HD voice calling is enabled on any device with HD functionality, including smartphones, desk, and conference phones. Pricing starts at $21.95 per user, per month with a prepaid 36-month agreement for five to 19 users. Pricing goes down as you add more users.
HD Voice Calling Pros & Cons
HD Voice Calling Pros
HD Voice Calling Cons
Improves the accuracy of voicemail-to-text or email transcriptions
Mobile phone HD voice or video calling may affect your data usage limits
Noise-canceling technology ensures distraction-free web conferences
The quality level may vary when using a slow or intermittent internet connection
Clear HD audio and video delivers a professional impression to all callers
HD calling isn’t available on all devices and hardware
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why aren’t all calls HD voice quality?
HD voice calling requires wideband lines used by cellular phone networks and internet providers. Conventional landlines use narrowband lines that don’t have the capacity or power to send or receive HD voice calls. Also, not all devices feature HD functionality. HD calls require both the caller and recipient to use HD-compatible devices and services.
Is HD voice the same as Wi-Fi calling?
While similar in functionality, HD voice isn’t the exact same as Wi-Fi calling. Wi-Fi calls go through an internet connection and don’t require cell phone service. Calls made with HD-capable devices to other HD-enabled devices feature high definition quality. However, cell phones also provide HD voice calling, which uses 4G LTE networks, and you don’t need access to Wi-Fi to use it. Most phones give you the option to switch to Wi-Fi calling by changing your settings.
Does HD voice calling work on 3G?
No, HD voice calling via VoLTE technology uses 4G and 5G LTE data networks. 2G and 3G networks don’t provide the bandwidth to make high definition calls.
High definition voice calling reduces the echoing or lag experienced with traditional phone lines when calling long distances. Since most cell phones use HD technology, it’s easy to set up a small business phone service where your employees bring their own devices. But you can also purchase HD-enabled desk phones and headsets to complete your office setup.
Answer your business calls using VoIP phone services that provide HD audio and video capabilities. RingCentral gives small business owners enterprise-level communication and collaboration tools at an affordable price. Get started with your 15-day free trial.