Large HD voice codec deployments in soft clients

Estimating numbers for the proliferation of HD voice codes (that aren’t G.722/AMR-WB) via soft clients gets to be a very slippery slope in short order.

Global IP Solutions ( was very frank with HD Voice News in the challenges of providing an accurate estimate of softclient numbers.

“You [are] absolutely right that GIPS technology is used in connecting hundreds of millions of IP endpoints globally, which all includes GIPS wideband speech codec iSAC,” said GIPS’s John Gallagher. “But while wideband codecs are an important element of HD voice, it by no means guarantees HD voice because a codec cannot tackle the intrinsic problems of IP networks and devices such as packet loss, jitter, delay, echo and noise for example.”

As a result, the following information should be taken with a healthy grain of salt, given the issues cited by GIPS.

1) Skype and SILK

At last count, Skype cited 521 million “registered users” and up to 20 million users online at “peak times.”  The software has proliferated beyond PC-style platforms and is now found on numerous mobile handsets and even higher-end HDTVs.

SILK, Skype’s “superwideband” codec, does indeed support HD voice, but the codec will also – by design – drop back to wideband and then to narrowband voice if the compute and bandwidth resources are not available to support the highest encoding rates.

In addition, calls moving via SkypeIn and SkypeOut will be downgraded to narrowband at some point since the PSTN is, well, narrowband.


2) Global IP Solutions (GIPS) iSAC

It seems like everyone but Skype has license the GIPS iSAC codec for use in everything from consumer IM clients to integration into UC enterprise applications.

GIPS boasts of 235 customers, including–

QQ (Tencent), Yahoo, AOL, GoogleTalk, Baidu, Mail.Ru, Nimbuzz, PCCW (Hong Kong), IBM Lotus Sametime, Citrix Online, WebEx, and Communigate.

GIPS will likely pick up more mobile users in the months to come. Its VideoEngine client toolkit incorporating HD voice support is currently available for the Apple iPhone and Google Android operating systems.

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