IS-54 VSELP specifies an encoding of each 20 ms of speech into 159-bit frames, thus achieving a raw data rate of 7.95 kbit/s. In an actual TDMA cell phone, the vocoder output is packaged with error correction and signaling information, resulting in an over-the-air data rate of 16.2 kbit/s. For internet audio, each 159-bit frame is stored in 20 bytes, leaving 1 bit unused. The resulting file thus has a data rate of exactly 8 kbit/s.
A major drawback of VSELP is its limited ability to encode non-speech sounds, so that it performs poorly when encoding speech in the presence of background noise. For this reason, use of VSELP has been gradually phased out in favor of newer codecs.
VSELP is also the encoding method used in some early Motorola Type II trunking systems. It was phased out in favor of the newer IMBE method.