Before the launch of iPhone, there was only one real data pipe: Ethernet. Cable and DSL operators in both the consumer and enterprise space have dedicated bandwidth setup to ensure toll quality on the Ethernet based IP phones/gateways/routers. With the launch of the revolutionary iPhone, consumers really got the taste for Wireless data networks. Not that the data network was not being used before with Windows Mobile devices and Blackberrys, but the extent of usage has been taken to a whole new level. This indeed raised concerns on the capacity available when heavy usage started to bring down the network frequently. For non-real time data, with few jerks and lot of buffering on the handset, this was still acceptable but for real-time Voice-over-IP (VoIP) this was far from reality.
There are many challenges with wireless networks such as latency, packet loss, jitter that are inherent attributes of 2.5G/2.75G/3G data networks and unmanaged WiFi hotspots. Though this has been addressed by the 4G networks (I will cover this as a separate topic at a later date) with dedicated bearers and guaranteed bit rate for real-time communications, but this is at its infancy and has to fall back to the legacy networks wherever not available.
These are some of the basic questions to ask –
1. Are the devices capable?
Yes they are now, with WiFi speeds reaching a point where there is more than sufficient bandwidth for point-to-point V.VoIP (Voice + Video) communications. But then there can be heavy packet losses, if the same bandwidth is shared between data and voice and if the wireless channels are not exclusively allocated for voice with QoS enabled.
2. Is the Network ready yet?
Which network are we talking about? There are data networks everywhere trying to do real-time voice and video. Most of these work in silos with no inter-working and as a result can offer a very bad user experience.
3. Finally, what is consumer expectation?
Ideally, consumers expect to get the similar or better experience on an IP network as of the circuit-switched network. But due to the inherent limitations, they accept less than perfect quality that is short-lived when it goes beyond the limit due to unpredictability. Also, users do not want to run around to find a WiFi hotspot but they would rather like to get a seamless experience while transitioning between the networks.
So, what is the solution? Well, HelloSoft V.VoIP of course!
Since the network is not ready for the prime-time, we’ve implemented our smart video and voice technology as a separate client in your mobile device so it can therefore compensate for all of the above impediments. Some of the techniques that result in superior voice quality include –
• Adapting to dynamic network conditions
• Change to lower bit-rate codec like AMR (4.75kbps) in bandwidth limited 3G network
• Adaptive jitter buffer to smoothen the play out of the voice packets
• Packet loss concealment and redundancy algorithms when there is heavy packet loss within the network
1. Seamless roaming across the networks
• Voice call continuity algorithms provide seamless hand-off when moving between WiFi/2.5-3G (IP Networks) to GSM/CDMA (Circuit-Switched).
• IP2IP handoff when moving between WiFi(IP Network) to 2.5-3G(Cellular Data Network)
2. Innovative techniques for Improved User-Experience
• Reducing the inherent latency within the media engine
• Integrating with lower level audio drivers
• Support for wideband codecs
…. and much more!
I hope there is enough to chew on for this week, stay tuned for more on what HelloSoft is doing to address the needs of V.VoIP and VoLTE in the coming months and follow us on Twitter at @ImaginationTech for the latest news.