What do we know about Moldova? It is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, located between Romania and Ukraine, with a population of around 4 million, writes Guy Daniels. The country has a well established wine industry (although I have yet to try this for myself).
Moldova has produced the boy band O-Zone, who came to prominence in 2004 with their hit song Dragostea Din Tei (the Numa Numa Song, although I have yet to hear it for myself), a mime of which is credited with kick-starting the UGC fad on YouTube.
The national sport of Moldova is trânta - a kind of wrestling, but the most popular one is football. England started its campaign to qualify for the 1998 World Cup Finals at the Republican Stadium in Kishinev, Moldova. Under new manager Glenn Hoddle, England beat Moldova 3-0. (England won their qualifying group but eventually lost to Argentina on penalties in the second round). But that’s enough geeky reminiscing (It certainly is... Ed).
Oh, and Moldova now has the best quality mobile phone service in the world…
Yesterday, Orange Moldova announced the launch of the world's first mobile service that offers what it calls “high-definition sound”. This is apparently the first time since the mid-1990s that mobile voice technologies have been subject to a such a significant evolution.
About time too. It’s all very well pushing the capabilities of multimedia and high-speed data, but at the end of the day the main function of a mobile phone is to make calls (yes it is Nokia, despite your instance on re-branding phones as multimedia computers).
The Apple iPhone is a breathtakingly good mobile Internet device, but the quality of the phone is rubbish. In fact, in my opinion, most mobile phone voice calls today sound no better than those made on the analogue phones of the late 80s, early 90s.
So any effort to improve this shortcoming has to be applauded.
"High-definition voice is clearly the future standard for mobile communications and is set to vastly improve user experience over the coming years,” said Yves Tyrode, Executive Vice President at the grand-sounding Orange Technocentre. “We are very happy to be able to bring this technology to our customers in Moldova, who will be the first in the world to be able to enjoy such a service”.
Of course, as well as network improvements, you also need a phone that incorporates the necessary technology – in this case the WB-AMR (Adaptive Multi Rate WideBand) speech codec. The first AMR-WB tests were conducted in October 2006 in a deployed network by T-Mobile in Germany, in cooperation with Ericsson.
The first commercially available mobile to offer this high-definition capability is the Nokia 6720c. Orange says that customers using this device “will benefit from the best possible sound quality allowing for a much richer and natural sound that is capable of conveying emotion significantly better than an ordinary handset. Background noise is also faded out to provide clearer voice conversations creating a feeling of proximity between both parties.”
An Ericsson HD voice trial in 2006 found that 72 per cent of customers would want their next mobile handset to be compatible with HD voice. Furthermore, according to an Orange France survey in 2008, 50 per cent of VoIP customers said they would be willing to switch operators to get an improved voice quality service. In 2006 Orange launched a high-definition voice service for VoIP calls, and reports that over 500,000 Livephone devices have already been sold in France.
Orange plans to extend the range of HD voice-compatible mobile handsets across Europe, introducing HD voice services to the UK and Belgium by the end of 2010. So confident is Orange of the consumer appeal of HD, that it believes HD-enabled handsets will represent the majority of the 3G handsets sold within five years.
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