One of the first interesting things to arise out of this weeks WebRTC conference in Atlanta is an announcement from Audio Codes that they will be adding support for the Opus codec to their 400HD series of SIP desk phones. Here’s the press release.
There seems to be a little confusion about what’s actually going to be offered. The title of the release states, “AudioCodes Announces WebRTC Phone.” The copy goes on to describe that the hardware will be extended to provide native support the Opus codec. This capability is projected to be deliverable in Q4-2013.
Support for a fancy new HDVoice codec, while a great move, is substantially different from being “a WebRTC phone.” Still, hardware support for Opus in the desk phone will enable transcoding-free operation with other WebRTC-based end-points….ie Web Browsers. This paves the way for practical integration of WebRTC-based call-me widgets on web sites, sending calls to someone with a more traditional SIP desk phone.
Audio Codes has been offering their line of desk phones for some time. They made some noise about adoption of HDVoIP, including support for G.722 and G.722.2. Since G.722.2 (a.k.a. AMR-WB) is the defacto standard codec for HDVoice over wireless mobile networks that would have seemed a similar move, potentially enabling HDVoice calls from wireless to IP desk phones without the need to transcode at a gateway or PBX.
In reality, Audio Codes makes a lot of enabling technology. From silicon to media gateways and session border controllers, they play in a broad swath of telecom infrastructure space. They are well positioned to take this kind of a move. It will enhance their ability to move their SIP end-points into a hot, new niche that may have traditionally been dominated by others players.
I still like hardware in many applications. Thus I applaud Audio Codes for adding support for Opus. Hardware support for the codec is an important factor in ensuring it’s widespread adoption. There are a lot of potential use cases that are not a web browser at either end of the wire.