What with the gathering storm that is wideband telephony there’s a lot of rumbling about codecs going on at the moment. Such discussions usually include at least a couple of open source proponents wondering why Speex is not more widespread. It’s a very good question.
Speex most commonly shows up in soft phones. That’s nice, but soft phones have limited appeal. Most people prefer hardware of some kind. That’s where Speex implementations are few and far between. This is kind of the opposite of the situation that I found with G.722. In that case I found that hardware support was good and growing, but support for it in soft phones was lacking.
Not long ago Michael Stanford of the excellent WiRevolution blog posted an interview with Jean-Marc Valin, principle author of Speex. It shed some light as to the origins of the software and underlying principles of its design.
Today David Rowe had a similarly interesting post regarding royalty free codecs. David had a hand in the development of Speex. His post is apparently in response to an IETF proposal for the development of a royalty free codec, and the ensuing discussion on the IETF mailing list.
Perhaps if enough people get to discussing this openly we might find that our next generation of telephony is not beholden to various commercial concerns and their patent pools. This could significantly change the economics of things.