Is SILK the Standard for Internet-based Communication?

By Adam Devino| October 22, 2015

With Microsoft’s purchase of Skype Limited in 2011, and upon the transition from Lync to Skype for Business, customers are now enjoying crystal clear sound quality thanks to the revolutionary SILK audio codec.

What is SILK?

Released by Skype in 2009, SILK is an audio codec, or a program that compresses and decompresses a digital audio data stream. SILK helped propel Skype to market leader status nearly overnight. This audio codec plays an essential behind-the-scenes role and is used by over 300 million users for 3 billion minutes each day.


Along with CELT, SILK is now part of the Internet Engineer Task Force (IETF) standard for online-based communications. SILK and CELT have been extended to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard Opus codec also known as “Harmony.” Harmony is currently being utilized in a wide variety of online-based communications.

SILK vs. Traditional Codecs

Codecs G.711 and G.729 are two of the most widely used forms of audio compression in the VoIP market today. Even though these compression formats have been around for over 20 years and have since been superseded, we are still seeing them utilized in 90% of VoIP implementations. These codecs are highly sensitive to network infrastructure, which can lead to sub-par voice conversations.

SILK is poised to be the Internet communication standard. It was designed to adapt to the environment it’s traversing. In other words, it can seamlessly adjust to variations in network resources, whether that be moving from 3G to Wi-Fi or competing with other network applications for broadband bandwidth. SILK is able to do this by encoding/decoding audio in as little as 10 milliseconds, in addition to dynamically switching between narrowband, medium-band, wideband, and super wideband audio based on current network conditions. We are truly experiencing the next-generation of voice quality within the enterprise.

When is SILK used?

Within the current VoIP environment, the SILK codec is only available when both endpoints have built-in support. Below is a chart to illustrate SILK-capable communications:

What does this mean for me?

Given the foundation upon which the SILK audio codec packet is transcribed and formed, you should no longer have to settle for poor call quality. Even within uncontrolled network environments such as those who work from home, you can ensure you’ll be providing all users across your enterprise the best quality audio experience in the marketplace today.

How can I get SILK?

With the integration of the SILK audio codec, you can be assured Skype for Business gives your organization the very best call quality.

Need help making the move to Skype for Business? BDO Digital's local IT professionals’ Skype for Business expertise is second to none. Contact us and tell us about your VoIP needs today.

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