Noisy mobile phone users in pubs, restaurants and trains are the target of the latest service upgrade by UK mobile operator Cellnet.
Cellnet announced this week that it will install background noise reduction technology from US networking technology company Tellabs at 13 of its switching centres in the UK.
The quality enhancement, dubbed Clearcall by Cellnet, is part of a drive by the company to improve call quality on its network. Cellnet also uses EFR (Enhanced Full Rate) coding technology to enhance call quality for users of the latest mobile handsets.
Tellabs claims its product, the EC Duo 8000, can reduce background noise on mobile phone calls by up to 75 per cent, by differentiating between the caller's voice and background noise, and amplifying the voice signal.
Lower background noise levels will enable mobile phone users to speak at normal conversation levels, even in noisy environments, according to Mike Tiplady, director of technology at Cellnet. "There's no longer a need to shout into a phone," Tiplady said in a statement.
But the shouting is unlikely to stop immediately, according to Cellnet spokesman Damian Peachey. "Unfortunately it is a cult phenomenon so it might take some time to get the message across," he said.
Cellnet is planning a marketing campaign early next year promoting the enhanced quality of its network, something that customers are demanding. "Network quality is becoming an increasingly important driver of customer decision on mobile phone service - to compete on price alone is not enough," said Peachey.
However, customers are more likely to associate quality with coverage, rather than whether they have advanced services like EFR, said Patrick Donegan, an analyst at the Yankee Group Europe in Watford, England. "Quality equals coverage for most consumers," he said.
The UK's other three mobile operators use EFR to provide enhanced quality service, but how they promote the quality of their service differs, according to Donegan.
Vodafone hasn't made much fuss about EFR, but claims 12 per cent of its subscribers use the system, while One2One has made a big fuss about EFR, hyping up the enormous improvements in voice quality, he said. Orange has EFR, but it has primarily been pitching its coverage and large number of base stations.
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