Remember the good news that Orange brought to the UK on our alcohol-fueled New Year's Eve? We thought so. Anyway, it looks like said fruit company's still on course to "a new era for UK mobile communications" as it launches HD Voice trial in England today. Lucky participants across Bristol, Reading and Southampton will benefit from "crystal clear" voice calls, courtesy of the wider speech bandwidth -- 50–7000 Hz as opposed to the current 300–3400 Hz. Sadly, Orange isn't keen on dishing out deets about the special hardware, but our friends over at What Mobile had the chance to play with a modified Nokia X6 from yesterday's demo -- "It was like listening to AM radio and then switching over to listen to a CD." If all goes well, we'll meet the rest of the gang when HD Voice is rolled out "before the end of the summer." Press release after the break.
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Orange UK launches mobile HD voice trial

·Orange High Definition (HD) Voice trial commences a new era for UK mobile communications

·Mobile HD Voice to offer a superior customer experience - virtually eliminating the distance between callers by providing users with crystal clear calls

·Full nationwide roll-out of the service planned before the end of the summer 2010

London, 18th June, 2010: Orange today announced a trial of High Definition (HD) Voice across its UK mobile network in the South of England.

With its crystal clear, superior sound quality, Orange's introduction of HD Voice is set to herald a new era for mobile communications and a new standard for the telecoms industry. The service virtually eliminates the distance between callers so that it makes calls sound as if they're in the same room.

The trial, which commences immediately, runs across the Orange UK mobile network between the locations of Bristol, Reading and Southampton, with those participating, having been selected to represent a range of demographic groups, including small businesses and early technology adopters, as well as more mainstream users. Levels of call quality and customer experience will be monitored, and upon successful feedback from the trial, Orange plans to roll out the service nationwide across before the end of the summer.

Tom Alexander, Chief Executive of Everything Everywhere, the company which runs Orange UK, said: "The trial of mobile HD Voice is a significant milestone in the new company's goal of delivering the best service in the industry. HD Voice represents a huge advance for the customer experience, a great leap forward for the mobile industry and we're delighted to be at the forefront in bringing this innovation to the UK public."

The UK trial builds on the launch of service by Orange in Moldova, where it has become the first operator in the world to offer the service. HD Voice offers an improvement in the sound quality of traditional mobile voice calls due to a wider speech bandwidth of 50–7000 Hz compared to the current narrowband speech codec of 300–3400 Hz. HD Voice uses the WB-AMR (Wideband Adaptive Multi-Rate) speech codec to deliver significantly enhanced sound quality while utilising the same network resources.

Further details on the Orange HD Voice nationwide roll out will be made available later in 2010.

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Orange begins HD Voice trial in Southern England, leaves out Buckingham Palace