At eComm 2009 this afternoon,Jonathan Christensen, Skype General Manager for Audio and Video announced that Skype will open their wideband audio algorithms for public use. The blogsphere was pre-briefed under embargo, so multiple people have already written this up. But it's a pleasure to see Jonathan presenting things live.
Skype was the first significant company to deploy wideband audio telephony. As a result, with Skype it feels like you are in the same room as the person you are talking to. The algorithm they are releasing is called Silk. It reproduces 50 Hz to 12,500 Hz audio signals versus traditional telephony at 300 Hz to 3000 Hz.
Skype is making this codec available to third parties royalty free. That's important as many (most) audio codecs are encumbered with all sorts of patent royalties. The Silk codec is what's currently used in Skype v4 and it appears there will be a string of related announcements from partners, today and tomorrow.
In response to a question from the audience, Jonathan makes it clear that Skype's direction is to open up as much as they can, in order to seed the market and accelerate the spread of Skype.
Note: this is binary distribution, not source code or a description of the algorithm. On the other hand, Skype is hoping to get this algorithm on as many processors and chip sets as possible. As a result, they are open to working with anyone that has a business case for a port.