A group of organization including Skype, Broadcom, Octasic, Mozilla, Xiph.org, and Google have completed a collaboration to build an audio encoding technology that is not only free, as in royalty free, free from licensing fees, etc., but also sounds great in side-by-side audio comparison tests. But why does this matter to you?
A codec is a piece of software that is used to encode and decode audio for transport over the internet. The purpose is typically to conserve bandwidth or match encoding from the caller to the callee. Codecs narrowband codecs can allow numerous simultaneous calls to take place of a standard highspeed internet connection while wideband codecs can allow for cd quality audio taking up much more bandwidth in the process.
Opus is a combination and improvement upon two very impressive codecs, the narrowband sylk codec from Skype and the wideband celt codec from Octasic. This give Opus the very unique ability to be used as either a narrowband or a wideband codec depending on the need and implementation.
This all seems like pretty boring technical stuff but it could have some pretty huge implications. Currently, the narrowband codec of choice is G729, a licensed codec requiring royalties for its use. G729 has remained the king of VOIP codecs because it has very high sound quality while using very little bandwidth. Opus, with its open source and royalty-free license, could easily change the codec game in carrier-grade VOIP. Open source and royalty-free means the costs of implementation into phones and phone systems is relatively inexpensive and does not carry ongoing licensing fees. By combining and improving both codecs in this new package and providing an open source license, it could mean that VOIP calls will be getting much better sound quality and even a little less expensive in the near future.
Opus looks to be a game-changer in the codec space and we will implement it in our systems as soon as it is ready.