I recently got a call from my wife Alicia regarding our upcoming travel plans. She was meeting with a bunch of her girlfriends at a popular but noisy Atlanta restaurant. She suddenly realized that she needed me to adjust our travel plans to an upcoming wedding in London. She called me and told me she needed to leave a day later so that she could attend her friend's birthday party first. Over all the background noise of the restaurant, I asked her to repeat what she had just asked me to do.
"I can't hear you very well," I complained. "It's very noisy there. Did you want to change our plans to go to London?"
"Yes. I said we need to leave a day later."
"You want to come back a day later? It's really very noisy. Can you go outside?"
(After a 10-second delay): "Is this any better?"
"Yes, I can finally hear you loud and clear. I think you want me to change our travel plans to London."
Ok, you get the idea. The background noise can be just terrible at times. If you try to make a cell phone call while driving with the windows down or in a subway, bar or other loud public facility, the person you're calling hears a mixture of what you're saying along with what the sum of others around you are saying. And there's typically not any filtering capability in the receiving phone-which makes the problem two-way. Think about two people in two different crowded bars trying to talk on their cell phones to each other: it can be a downright horrible experience.
Noisy environments wreak havoc with voice quality on cell phones. And, while several products on the market can handle low levels of stationary noise, they are not robust enough to suppress noise while in motion (that is, while walking or running outdoors, driving a car or on moving public transportation).
Cell phone carriers appreciate the need to provide calls free of background noise, and they are putting requirements in place that require noise suppression in a number of handsets. A few companies are addressing this horrendous problem with a new chip and/or software that greatly reduces background noise in a mobile environment.