Putting Numbers on the Value of Reliable Voice Quality

Quietly, over the past 15 years, we’ve come to expect poor voice quality. For many of us, we hardly even notice it any longer. Poor voice call quality makes a huge negative difference, especially for business. We’ve just learned to live with it, and the cost of poor quality now goes unnoticed.

The quiet march toward bad voice quality began with cell phones.

When the mobile phone first appeared, we had a choice: reliable calling when tethered to our desk phone or slightly unreliable calling from anywhere else. This was not usually a conscious choice for most of us, it just was a function of a new technology that enabled us to talk anywhere but imperfectly. Many of us initially used mobile phones for casual conversations and our desk phones for mission-critical calling, but eventually we began choosing mobile phones for all calls as we got used to missing words and periodic dropped calls.

At the same time, Internet VoIP began chipping away at voice quality. Largely it was the same game but under a different name. The proposition with VoIP was not mobility but flexibility and cost. VoIP allowed us to make free or cheap national and international calls through the Internet, but of course, the technology was not perfect so we had to put up with latency, jitter and overall unreliable calling in exchange for the dramatic cost savings.

As with mobile phone adoption, most of us initially used VoIP only for personal use. Now many of us use VoIP services for professional purposes and put up with the loss of voice quality. Those we call are used to poor quality, and so are we.

The troubling point is that this is a false choice in 2016. We no longer must accept poor voice call quality. We can have mobility, flexibility and low-cost calling without a degradation in quality. We have the technology, whereas 15 years ago we did not.

Unfortunately, most of us no longer know the value of good voice quality because we’ve lived without it for so long. We feel the difference in the quality of experience when confronted with reliable calling, but we don’t always know to go looking for it.

Voice Quality Case Study

One example of the difference that reliable calling can make, especially for business, comes by way of language learning app, HelloTalk (hellotalk.com).

The HelloTalk app connects native speakers from around the world with language learners hungry for help with pronunciation and real-world language practice. Instead of using recordings, enrolling in an expensive class or jetting off to a far-off locale, HelloTalk users can quickly and easily connect with native speakers in more than 100 languages right through the app.

Since voice calling is a central feature of the HelloTalk app, the developers needed reliable and crystal clear voice calls. Users might accept delays and dropped connections to a point, but the developers realized that their business couldn’t be at the mercy of unreliable voice quality. For the HelloTalk app to take off, it needed a good quality of experience. This meant reliable, high-quality voice connections between native speakers and language learners.

To bring good voice call quality, HelloTalk used the Agora.io SDK for real-time voice. The SDK delivers premium, ultra-wide-band real-time voice capabilities from an optimized codec that has been built from the ground up for the type of connection HelloTalk needed. The SDK also offers crystal clear, end-to-end quality of experience no matter the connection through the use of more than 70 globally distributed data centers and a handful of patent-pending network-transmission and routing technologies.

While HelloTalk users might not have realized that the call quality had been improved thanks to Agora.io mobile video chat integration, they certainly felt it through a better quality of experience. The numbers bear this out.

After just over a year of integration with Agora.io, HelloTalk saw its user base expand from 430,000 users to 2.7 million. Call engagement increased by an average of 4.8 minutes, and the total minutes used on the app went up by a factor of 10. Users may not have understood the value of good voice quality on a conscious level, but they certainly responded favorably when HelloTalk presented them with more reliable and much better sounding voice connections.

The HelloTalk example really highlights the issue. Good global voice quality makes a huge difference, especially in business and where voice is embedded as part of a product or service. The need for high-quality, reliable voice calling isn’t always obvious, though. We’ve become so used to poor voice quality, we don’t know the difference until we experience it.

As the HelloTalk example shows, good voice quality matters whether we know it or not.


Editors note: To learn a new language while experiencing better global voice quality, just download HelloTalk from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone – see links at hellotalk.com. To try our Agora.io voice demo app to experience wide-band audio quality on your everyday social and large group app-to-app calls, download Beckon to your mobile phone from App/Play Store links at Beckon.cc. Both apps are completely free to use.