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Adaptive multi-rate (AMR) can be used for voice applications in UMTS systems where high spectral efficiency and system stability are required while guaranteeing; good speech quality. We investigate the trade-off between the system resource utilization and the provided quality of voice services, by proposing a method that considers both aspects of quality and capacity for the optimal assignment of speech data rates in 3rd generation cellular systems. Preliminary results, obtained with a simple model, indicate that a substantial capacity increase can be achieved in comparison to non-optimal cases. Moreover, the simplicity of the approach allows a straightforward application in real-time assignment strategies.