Skype’s Opus Codec Ratification Signals Enhanced Call Quality

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Skype has revealed its plan to enhance the call quality of its Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service after receiving an Opus specification approval.

The Microsoft subsidiary said that the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) ratified the final release of the new Opus specification.

Skype pushed forward the approval of the codec to the IETF in September 2010.

Opus is a free codec for real-time communications with the ability to keep up with all kinds of audio tasks and improve drastically audio experiences throughout the spectrum, with Skype promising it will reduce conversation gaps by a large factor.


“Opus will make a quiet, but crystal clear entry into the world – most people will take for granted the high sound fidelity when it arrives in Skype client, through browsers and gateways and we hope on mobile phones, game consoles and in conference rooms,” said a Skype representative.

“We believe that Opus is the first codec with state-of-the-art performance for any type of audio signal, for any application – communications, streaming and storage – and under any condition.

“There’s even a hybrid mode using both codecs at the same time for listening over the phone to your best friends’ band, or practicing together over a video call.”

Skype added that mobile operators, like consumers, will find its service entertaining because the Opus codec uses less megabytes.

“If you’ll pardon the pun, Opus will make a quiet but crystal clear entry into the world — most people will take for granted the high sound fidelity when it arrives in the Skype client, through browsers and gateways, and we hope on mobile phones, game consoles and conference rooms, too,” Karlheinz Wurm, Chief Engineer at Skype, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.

The royalty-free audio codec backed by the Mozilla Foundation is the first of its kind to earn official IETF approval, but it should see widespread support since it is essential to the emerging WebRTC real-time communications standard.

Of course, Opus is still young but the codec already received support from the likes of Firefox, GStreamer, FFMpeg, foobar2000, K-Lite Codec Pack, and lavfilters, and will soon be in VLC, rockbox and Mumble.

Google’s backing of WebRTC should see support from Chrome for Opus, whereas Microsoft has its own rival to WebRTC in the works, named CU-RTC-Web, so the free codec will unlikely receive support from that platform.

Skype has yet to announce when and how it will start rolling out its enhanced VoIP service.


Source: Skype Blog | Opus Codec

Image: Threat To Democracy, via Flickr (CC)

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Author: Francis Rey

Francis is a voracious reader and prolific writer. He has been writing about social media and technology for more than 10 years. During off hours, he relishes moments with his wife and daughter.

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