Archive for December, 2009

Orange launching Mobile HD Voice in 2010 [UK]

Orange has announced that it will offer mobile High Definition (HD) Voice for its customers in late 2010.

The announcement is a first for any UK mobile operator. Currently voice calls use a narrowband speech codec of 300–3400 Hz meaning call quality isn’t as crystal clear as it could be. HD Voice uses the WB-AMR (Wideband Adaptive Multi-Rate) speech codec. This provides excellent audio quality due to a wider speech bandwidth of 50–7000 Hz. Orange claims the new codec “delivers significantly enhanced sound quality whilst utilising the same network resources.”

HD Voice isn’t a new thing for Orange, the company has been testing HD Voice in Moldova since September this year. Unfortunately handsets need to support the new codec and hopefully most device manufacturers will be able to provide software upgrades to support the new functionality. The higher-quality encoding is only possible over the 3G/HSDPA network as it uses a higher bandwidth.

Tom Alexander, CEO of Orange UK, said: “HD Voice really does inject a level of innovation into mobile phone calls, making it sound as if callers are actually in the same room. Once people have tried it, they won’t want to go back.”

Orange also provided some examples of the quality of voice calls using HD Voice, you can listen to them here.

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Confirmed: VoIP capabilities coming to Google Voice

December 31, 2009 1 comment

After Google’s acquisition of Gizmo5 back in November, people could not help but wonder if and when it would be fully integrated with Google Voice. Ever since the announcement, speculation has flooded the Internet. Rumors about Google’s upcoming phone being VoIP only began circulating, and excitement has continued to build.

Today, those rumors are all beginning to come together. In a post on eWeek, Google executive, Bradley Horowitz, has openly admitted that Google plans to implement VoIP into their Google Voice service sometime in 2010. This will allow users to make phone calls via any data connection, regardless of a voice plan.

“What we’re trying to do with telephony is give people a seamless experience that frees up their telephony communication from the silos where it’s lived for the last decade. Voicemail, my contacts, all of those things have been segregated from the rest of my Web experience. We have big plans to do a better job.

Voicemail transcription, inbox integration and threaded SMS are fantastic features, but we’re really just scratching the surface. Gizmo5 gives us talent and talent technology. They have specific tech and skills in further integrating telephony with devices and desktop and Web-based computing. We want to make sure you’re communication is available to you irrespective of where you are at, what device you have in your pocket, etc.”

This could change the entire telephony landscape. Soon, a user will be able to take any phone with Wi-Fi capabilities (and Google Voice support) and use it on their home’s wireless network as a free, unlimited calling, house phone. Not only that, but this confirmation by Horowitz may actually justify the $530 price tag that the unlocked Nexus One is rumored to carry. If Google Voice will do VoIP straight from an Android phone, users would need nothing more than a pre-paid, data-only, SIM card to have a truly unlimited cell phone. Perhaps Google’s January 5th announcement will discuss the future of full Android/Google Voice integration. This would completely cut out wireless carriers from being able to charge for voice services. The world of cell phones as we know it, will cease to exist. There’s no mention of a specific date in 2010, but rest assured, Google VoIP will arrive soon, and when it does, it’s sure to shake things up.

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eBay scammer arrested in biggest fraud case to date

In what is probably the largest eBay fraud to have occurred since the auction houses opening, has been uncovered. A conman dubbed ‘The Man’ has been arrested, along with his counterparts, for his role in the largest scam that has ever occurred on eBay.

The is reporting that Gary Bellchambers was arrested at his home in Rainham, Essex. Gary lived a two part life, his life in Essex was a very modest living with little amenities, but his life in Thailand, was that of extreme luxury made possible by his sales of counterfeit golf equipment on eBay.

The prosecutor said: “Over the course of about four years, between mid-2003 and early-2008, these defendants and their co-conspirators have been responsible for the sale and distribution of hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of pounds worth of counterfeit goods both here in the UK and abroad – primarily through the well-known auction website eBay.”

The counterfeit clubs were being sold as original equipment but were in fact knock offs that were being produced in China and being sold by Gary Bellchambers; the court date is set for January 25th.

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New Google phone pictures leak

December 14, 2009 1 comment

According to sources like The New York Times and The Washington Post, Google has given its employees a copy of their next Google Android phone, which appears to be running Android 2.1. The new phone is said to release sometime in 2010, without carrier influence on what features are used.

Normally service providers dictate what features they will allow on phones they sell, and so far Google has gone behind the scenes on creating Android 2.1 and create their own phone.

Google decided to test out their latest phone with their employees, giving them the first-hand look with the new hardware, running Android 2.1. One of their employees leaked some photos of the new phone, showing off pictures of the phone and the updated Android 2.1 software, running on the phone.

Some experts believe the name of the phone will be called, “Nexus One”, says one writer John Gruber who wrote, “Nexus is the brand name of the series of androids (a.k.a. replicants).” Google even put up a temporary page that redirects users when entering, unless you disable javascript. Users can view the page source and get a first look at some of the graphics herehere and here.

New Skype betas for Windows, Nokia phones

eBay may have recently sold off Skype to the highest bidder, but the VoIP app for desktop and mobile is still in development.

On Thursday, Skype announced Skype 4.2 for Windows beta and a new beta build for Symbian phones. Skype 4.2 beta for Windows desktop users is small as updates go, reinstating Skype Access–a Wi-Fi hot spot connector–and call transferring that Skype had removed when overhauling its app and updating to version 4 (now in version 4.1), a build that includes screen sharing.

You can scrutinize the full release notes here.

In addition to tightening up Skype for the desktop, the company announced it will issue a limited beta release for Symbian Series 60 handsets. There’s compatibility for 17 Nokia handsets at launch, with use on more phones on the way.

The feature set is basic at present, with just the following features in place:

  • Free Skype-to-Skype calling
  • Call phones with Skype credits or subscription
  • Receive calls on your Online Number
  • Instant Messaging
  • Group conversations
  • File sending and receiving
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Google and BT in talks over ISP video delivery network

Web search giant Google and British Telecom are believed to be in talks about creating an ISP based video delivery network that would deliver improvements to the quality of online video by storing popular videos on the ISP’s own network,according to the Guardian.

It is understood that BT’s wholesale arm is working on a deal to make Google’s video content available on the network, which will be made available for other British ISPs including Orange and Virgin Media. As well as relieving some of the Internet congestion caused by on-demand video such as the BBC’s iPlayer, the network would also help ISPs try to recoup the costs involved in trying to keep up with demand.

Although some ISPs are already paid by media providers for offering a more reliable service, many ISPs receive no compensation at all – something that may mean some ISPs will have to decide whether they can continue to spend money on their networks, according to Sian Baldwin, director of broadband and content services at BT Wholesale.

“It’s really difficult to predict what will happen. You cannot say all of the ISPs will get into a stand-off in which they threaten to cut off the traffic of YouTube or Apple but by my predictions there is a situation where they might have to,” she said.

Several thousand British broadband users currently testing the service are receiving better access to content, even at peak times when many people suffer from slow downloads.

BT hopes to launch the service commercial in the spring.

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