The comparatively low quality of audio during mobile phone calls has been a cause of frustration to users everywhere since mobiles first became commonplace in the 1990s. But now, after several years of intensive R&D, a new technology developed by twelve leading companies in the mobile space will significantly improve the quality of voice calls. Fraunhofer IIS is a major contributor to this effort.
3GPP – the international organisation responsible for cellular telecommunications standards development, of which Fraunhofer IIS is a member – has just completed the Enhanced Voice Services codec EVS as part of 3GPP Release 12. Source code is now publicly available from 3GPP.
Observers across the mobile technology sector have already acknowledged that EVS is a ground breaking development for telephony. It is the first 3GPP conversation codec able to deliver Full-HD Voice quality up to 20 kHz audio bandwidth. EVS can deliver speech and audio quality comparable to other audio services we consume today such as music streaming and downloading.
Designed from the ground-up for packet-switched services like VoLTE (Voice over LTE), EVS packs an extensive feature-set including: a multi-rate speech and audio codec, source controlled variable bit-rate adaptation, a voice/sound activity detector, comfort noise generation, an error concealment mechanism, a channel-aware mode, and powerful jitter buffer management. In this way EVS offers high robustness to counter jitter and packet loss issues.
EVS not only makes existing “legacy voice” much “easier on the ears” – it also enables new and emerging applications. For example, the audio quality is so good that reporters could go live-to-air from a remote location by just using their phone, without the need for conventional and expensive studio uplink technology.
For the consumer, the new level of audio quality EVS offers allows for calls to be much richer in the future, including listening to a music performance from a distance, enjoying the grandchildren singing “Happy Birthday”, or being “on location” with a loved one traveling to London and hearing Big Ben live.
Header image © Fraunhofer IIS/Kurt Fuchs