Nokia said it has held the world’s first live immersive voice and audio call using a codec outlined in the 5G-Advanced specification. The Finnish vendor is a major contributor to the new Immersive Voice and Audio Services (IVAS) codec, which enables spatial audio transmission in real time over voice calls.

IVAS supports live spatial audio from connected devices such as smartphones, tablets and PCs.  When enabled, the listener should be able to perceive the location of each sound, as audio will be played as if it is coming from behind, above, or adjacent to the listener. For this test call, Nokia used its proprietary immersive voice kit to transmit IVAS-encoded voice data over a public 5G network, connecting Nokia president CEO Pekka Lundmark on one side to Finland’s ambassador for new technologies Stefan Lindstrom.

The codec’s development is being spearheaded by thirteen companies under 3GPP’s public collaboration mandate. Nokia aims to bring leadership to these efforts and says it contributed foundational technologies, including a codec container specific to smartphones. Native smartphone support could pave the way for true interoperability across operators, chipset and handset manufacturers, greatly expanding IVAS’s user base.

The low-delay codec was adopted by 3GPP’s SA4 benchmark committee as meeting its selection criteria. 3GPP says it aims to introduce an updated standard for voice services once every decade. In 2014, for example, it introduced 20 kHz audio calls with the Enhanced Voice Services (EVS) codec in VoLTE and VoNR, reducing jitter effects and sharpening call quality. IVAS is designed to be back-compatible with EVS-based infrastructure.

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