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New codec set to ease pressure on broadband networks

A new video format that promises to make streaming video over the internet much more efficient has been ratified by the ITU. The H.265 standard, also known as High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), is claimed to be twice as efficient as its predecessor, H.264.

The new codec will enable Full HD 1080p video to be delivered over lower quality streams, offering a tangible quality improvement for customers, or it could be employed to maintain quality levels while reducing the load on strained broadband networks. It has also been suggested that H.265 could enable next generation ‘4K’ video to streamed to those with connections of 30Mbps or greater.

H.264 video was ratified as a standard in 2003, and currently accounts for 80 per cent of all online video. It is also the encoding format of choice for many broadcast systems, and for Blu-ray discs.

The H.265 format was created through collaboration between the ITU Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) and the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG).

In a statement, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, Secretary-General, ITU said that: “ITU-T H.264 underpinned rapid progression and expansion of the video ecosystem, with many adopting it to replace their own proprietary compression codecs.

“The industry continues to look to ITU and its partners as the global benchmark for video compression, and I have no doubt that this new standard will be as effective as its predecessor in enabling the next wave of innovation in this fast-paced industry.”

While companies such as Broadcom, Cyberlink, Ericsson, Fraunhofer HHI, Mitsubishi and NHK have all showcased implementations of HEVC a stumbling block over the adoption of H.265 is that is requires around four times the processing power for encoding and decoding. As such it will be some time before devices such as smartphones and tablets are powerful enough to take its use practical.

As it stands the H.265 standard supports 10-bit video, but the ITU team is continuing to work in extensions to the format, adding 12-bit colour support and stereoscopic (3D) video support.

The Big Bandwidth conference, part of the Broadband World Forum series, is taking place on the 4th-5th June, in San Francisco, USA. Click here to download a brochure.

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