half rate and megabits
"There was also the promise of EHR (Enhanced half rate) to double capacity, but it sounded rubbish and has only been used in emergency situations."
Oh here in the US, AT&T uses half-rate (AMR-HR) *all the time* on a lot of their network. (I don't mean "all the time" as a figure of speech either -- people on howardforums say they'll make calls at like 2AM and they are still half rate.) And it does sound rubbish. Phone companies here haven't competed on quality in ads for years (Sprint did initially, advertising how you could hear a pin drop on their calls, until they oversold and you couldn't.) , They are presently competing on coverage and reliability -- I've averaged less than 1 dropped call *a year*, and had 3G data for about 900 out of a 930 mile road trip I was on recently. My provider uses CDMA and EVDO though. I do pay dearly for all that coverage though.
That said, wideband audio codecs are not just a gimmick and should sound better than standard calls. Will haing extra clarity make any difference? My calls already sound pretty good unless the signal is pretty weak, so I'm inclined to say "no it wouldn't make any difference." But I won't say that, I'll reserve judgement until after I've heard a wideband call.
"I'm still hoping the day will come when I can replace my 1MB/s landline (although paying for 8 Mb/s)"
1MB/second *is* 8Mb/sec. MB's are megabytes and Mb or mb are megabits. If you mean 1mbps, that's a shame if you can't get that wirelessly. I get 768kbps-1mbps here pretty regularly, and that's not even considered to be that great a speed (I also have a out-of-date EVDO rev 0 card instead of rev A.) I got over 1mbps most of the time on my recent road trip too, in a 70MPH vehicle. The cell cos here charge a rather dear $60 for 5GB for tethering or aircard plans (I have a grandfathered $60 for unlimited though). As a consequence, though, it's not oversubscribed, and for all that cheddar, netiher GSM provider (AT&T and Iowa Wireless) has 3G, but all 3 CDMA providers that cover my area have EVDO (Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular).