Orange Uganda, one of five GSM operators in Uganda's high-stakes telecom sector, has pulled a first on its competition by launching high definition (HD) voice calls.

The company said it will capitalize on its country-wide 3G+ network to deliver its new offering, which promises users a significantly improved quality of service when making calls.

HD calls have noise-reduction technology that reduces the hisses and crackles of normal mobile calls.

"This is a first in Sub-Saharan Africa, bringing a new era of telecommunications in Uganda," Anisha Sekatawa, Orange's brand manager said.

"Your conversation will be so clear even when you talk normally. And when someone calls you from a noisy place, you'll be able to hear them much better with HD voice," Sekatawa said.

To enjoy HD voice though, one needs an HD Voice enabled handset and 3G coverage for both the caller and receiver. This will require most users to purchase a new handset.

However, there are phones on the market that are already HD ready. Orange Uganda has launched the offer with two new handsets: a ZTE F160 and an LG Saffron, both now available at Orange outlets.

Orange launched HD voice calling in the U.K. in the 2009 and the company has gone ahead to launch it elsewhere in Europe. HD voice runs on a 3G+ network and gives louder, clearer, sharper mobile calls because it uses what is called Wide-Band Adaptive Multi-rate (the WB -- AMR) speech codec, which provides excellent audio quality due to a wider speech bandwidth than usual.

Orange, the mobile brand of France Telecom, has two operations in East Africa. The operations in Kenya launched in 2008 while those in Uganda began in 2009.

In Kenya, Orange recently launched an offer that enables users sign up for a Smartphone of their choice, which they then go ahead to pay for over a period of time lasting two years at the most. On offer are a Nokia N8, a Samsung Scala B7330 and a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 -- all high-end Smartphones that cost hundreds of US dollars. In Africa with the exception of markets like South Africa, users have to fully pay for a handset before they can own one.