Global Phone Number Provider iNum Brings HD Voice Calling To Skype

Tomorrow at the eComm Europe 2009 event, Brussels-based provider of international VoIP origination services and telephone numbers Voxbone will be officially announcing that its global phone number service iNum now supports high-definition voice calling between Skype (which now boasts over 521 million users worldwide) and dozens of VoIP networks.

Voxbone will be transcoding between Skype’s wideband SILK codec and the HD codec G.722, with support for additional codes planned for the future. In the end, Voxbone says it wants to turn the technology into the sound quality standard for VoIP and “eventually all telephony”.

For your background: iNum is short for “international Number”. Think of it as a geographically-independent phone number that lets you use the same number all around the word, instead of needing to switch to a new number from a new supplier in case you move to a new country or stay in one for a long period of time. Here’s a list of current providers.

iNum makes use of the +883 global country code newly created by the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). The startup received a first allocation of 100 million numbers from the organization last year.

Because iNum numbers can be dialed from PSTN phones (aka via the ‘plain old telephone system’) as well as IP endpoints, Voxbone’s move enables conference calls with attendees on conventional phones, who will hear within the PSTN’s audio constraints, and others with HD IP endpoints, who should enjoy a richer sound. Skype made its SILK super-wideband audio codec freely available last March.

We should note there is some industry criticism around the concept of ‘HD calling’, which at times gets billed as a fancy new term that doesn’t describe anything earth-shatteringly new or innovative and something which there is no demand for.

Any specialists who want to weigh in on this discussion?