Skype has announced that it will license the high quality audio codec in its latest VoIP software to any developer or vendor free of charge. The codec, dubbed SILK, debuted to positive reviews in the 4.0 version of Skype for Windows last month as it enables wideband audio and optimizes call quality, even in low network bandwidth environments.

Although there are a number of speech codecs available on the market today, including some open source ones, Skype obviously claims that SILK outperforms them all. However, they are willing to give it away to competitors hoping to set standards in the industry and help VoIP services spread more quickly. It might also be a sign that Skype's considering offering an API, opening up the service so that other programs or devices can make Skype calls natively while they benefit from a potential explosion in paid calls through Skype Out.