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Codec Wars vs Serving The Common Good

There has been for many years a subtle conflict ongoing in telecom space. Various vendors have created digital encoding techniques (codecs) that target common network issues. Since various network realities exist so too do various approaches to the problems faced. So a range of codecs exist in the marketplace.  Typically a high-quality solution comes with an associated cost, reflecting the very fact that the solution has merit.

The poster-child for this is the G.729a codec. Over time this patented codec has become the industry standard low-bitrate codec for voice applications. Who can argue. It works well. It squeezes reasonable voice quality down to under 30 kbps and it’s compute overhead is acceptable on available hardware.

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Skype’s New SILK Wideband Codec Set Free

skype_logoThe release a couple of months back of the Skype v4.o client for Windows was noteworthy as the introduction of their in-house developed SILK codec. Earlier today during an eComm 2009 presentation Jonathan Christensen, Skype GM Audio & Video, announced that SILK was being released under a royalty free license.

SILK was notable as being capable of narrowband (8KHz), wide band (16KHz) and super-wideband (24KHz) sample rates. Skype claims the codec dynamically adapts both sample rate and bitrate in response to variable network quality. They have published a PDF with a very general overiew of codec performance expressed in terms of bitrates, CPU requirements and MOS scores.

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Peace In VoIPland: Bridging the SIP & Skype Kingdoms

opensky_logoLast year a number of people lead a charge to get Skype to open their network to greater interoperability with the open standards-based VoIP world. Gizmo5’s Michael Robertson, ever the instigator, was perhaps the most vocal of the group. Various others weighed in with opinions, including such notables as Dan York, Andy Abramson, Phil Wolff, Alec Saunder & others. At the time it sounded not unlike Mr Reagan telling Mr Gorbachev to “tear down these walls.”

Then word came out of Astricon that Digium had forged a partnership with Skype. The result would be “Skype For Asterisk,” a channel module allowing the integration of Skype into the leading open source IP-PBX platform. A great cheer went up all around VoIP-land. There was much rejoicing.

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