The term echo cancellation is used in telephony to describe the process of removing echo from a voice communication in order to improve voice quality on a telephone call. In addition to improving subjective quality, this process increases the capacity achieved through silence suppression by preventing echo from traveling across a network.
Two sources of echo have primary relevance in telephony: acoustic echo and hybrid echo. Speech compression techniques and digital processing delay often make these echoes more severe in telephone networks.
Echo cancellation involves first recognizing the originally transmitted signal that re-appears, with some delay, in the transmitted or received signal. Once the echo is recognized, it can be removed by 'subtracting' it from the transmitted or received signal. This technique is generally implemented using a digital signal processor (DSP), but can also be implemented in software. Echo cancellation is done using either echo suppressors or echo cancellers, or in some cases both.