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New MPEG standard halves video bandwidth with no quality loss

The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) has produced a draft standard for a new video-compression format that delivers the same video quality in half the bandwidth of the current H.264 standard.

The draft, High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC also known as H.265 and MPEG-H Part 2), announced today, agreed on at an MPEG meeting in Stockholm in July attended by 450 delegates from the telecoms, computer, TV and consumer electronics industries convened to approve and issue the new standard.

The chair of the Swedish delegation and organiser of the meeting, Per Fröjdh, manager for visual technology at Ericsson Research, said the outcome would have "an enormous impact on the industry."

"There's a lot of industry interest in this because it means you can halve the bit rate and still achieve the same visual quality, or double the number of television channels with the same bandwidth," he said.

"The availability of a new compression format to reduce bandwidth, particularly in mobile networks where spectrum is expensive [and] paves the way for service providers to launch more video services with the currently available spectrum."

He added: "Video accounts for the vast majority of all data sent over networks, and that proportion is increasing: by 2015, it is predicted to account for 90 percent of all network traffic."

Fröjdh said he believed that the HEVC format could be implemented in commercial products as early as in 2013. "It will take time before it's launched for a TV service, but adoption is much quicker in the mobile area, and we'll probably see the first services for mobile use cases next yea."

In June MPEGLA, an organisation that claims to be "the world's leading packager of patent pools for standards and other technology platforms," issued a call to holders of patents essential to the new standard to come forward.

"By starting the joint license facilitation process now, the market can enjoy the earliest opportunity to plan for deployment of this promising new technology," said MPEG LA president and CEO Larry Horn. "MPEG LA is pleased to assist in facilitating a convenient, independently administered, one-stop patent licensing alternative to assist users with implementation of their technology choices and invites all patent holders to participate."

Meanwhile Fröjdh's Visual Technology team at Ericsson is working with MPEG on a new 3D video compression format that would enable the development of 3D video systems that did not require 3D glasses. Fröjdh said the technology could be standardised by 2014.

"Future 3D technology will have more advanced displays, which will enable different views," he says. "The simpler versions of this technology will still just offer the two views we have today – left and right – without the need for glasses. But in the future, there will be many views next to each other, so you will simply move your head to the left or the right to give you a stereo impression of an object."

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