Broadcom Goes Open Source to Push HD Voice

[qi:081] Broadcom (s brcm) is hoping to lower the price of high-definition VoIP services by taking its BroadVoice codecs open source. But even if this move lowers the price for HD voice, will consumers pay even a marginal premium for a better quality call?

The Irvine, Calif.-based company’s BroadVoice family of voice codecs comprises two variants: BroadVoice32 for wideband speech sampled at 16 kHz, and BroadVoice16 for narrowband telephone-bandwidth speech sampled at 8 kHz. Both will be made available as C source code in an effort to lower the price for broadband operators looking to upgrade the audio quality of subscribers’ calls.

Higher-quality calls are a good thing, of course, and may be a selling point for service providers looking to stand out from the crowd. (Whether they can actually save wireline is far from certain, though.) But quality has often been a less-important feature for consumers, as cell phones (with their mobility) and VoIP (with their lower cost) have demonstrated. Broadcom’s move to open source may result in cheaper HD voice services, but until those prices are nearly indistinguishable from traditional services HD is likely to remain a small market.