With online video demand surging, the Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) has issued a new draft international standard of a new video-compression format that’s said to be twice as efficient as current standards.
Meeting in Stockholm, Sweden July 16-20, nearly 450 delegates from 26 countries representing the telecom, computing, TV and consumer electronics industries approved and issued the draft standard for the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) format. The draft standard is said to provide a 100% improvement in video compression levels as compared to the current H.264/AVC standard.
“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, which will have an enormous impact on the industry,” explained Per Fröjdh, manager for Visual Technology at Ericsson Research, Group Function Technology, who organized the event as Chairman of the Swedish MPEG delegation.
Doubling video compression capabilities is of particular interest to IPTV providers, especially those who deliver video via bandwidth constrained DSL. HVEC’s promise is to make much more efficient use of bandwidth, particularly in mobile networks, where spectrum is relatively scarce and demand for video is growing fast.
“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 pointed out.
MPEG Impact on Video
The MPEG industry association meets four times a year to discuss, propose and issue international standards for compression, decompression, processing and coded representation of moving pictures and audio. MPEG developed the MP3 and Advanced Audio coding (AAC) standards, the latter used by Apple in its consumer music offerings.
“MPEG has a big impact on the industry and on consumer electronics. On the video side, almost all digital terrestrial, satellite and cable TV services rely on video codecs standardized by MPEG,” Fröjdh continued. “When you buy a DVD or Blu-ray Disc, the compression format also uses MPEG standards.”
Fröjdh says commercial products using the final version of the new HEVC video compression format could be available as early as next year. That seems to be a somewhat optimistic view, given the draft standard was just approved. “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 year,” he said.
Ericcson’s Visual Technology team is also working with MPEG to develop a new type of 3D video compression format that would pave the way for a new standard for 3D video systems that wouldn’t require the use of 3D glasses. That technology could be standardized by 2014.
Image courtesy of flickr user Ben Dodson.
8 thoughts on “MPEG Looks to Double MPEG4 Video Compression with New HEVC”
The article is correct, MPEG has had a tremendous impact on the industry. Satellite receiver/decoders that used to cost $1000 when digital was first introduced now cost $6-7000 when they contain the hardware to decode mpeg4 video and transcode it to mpeg2 that cable systems can use. Programmers used to bear the cost of providing satellite receivers to smaller cable systems, but they don't do that any more at these prices.
The fact that there is only one manufacturer for each of the two types of encryption, Motorola for DCII and Cisco for PowerVu, means there is no competition on price either. Add all this up, and it is the reason our small cable company decided to get out of the satellite video business completely, switch to being an ISP and offering only all the local off-air channels we can receive at our location. It has been the best decision we have made in years. Customers stillcome to us for local channels since we carry all the subchannels that Dish and DirecTV do not carry.
So you market the local off air channels as a lifeline service? That's the only channel line-up you offer?
Yep, local off-airs including all their subchannels and a few free satellite services, such as QVC, HSN, EWTN, INSP, RFD, and NASA. RFD isn't free but we are a small town system in a rural area, and RFD is very popular. We lost a few subscribers initially, but we picked up some new ones, people who are cord-cutters, people who don't want hundreds of shopping channels and others they have no interest in, or only want local news/weather and who quit Dish and DirecTV. It's like we've gone back to the old days of CATV and people are quite happy with it. People can watch other programs via their internet connection anyway.
Interesting. I think we all might be headed this way. What percentage of your subscriber base did you lose when you moved in this direction?
When we shut down all the satellite programming we lost about half of our video-only customers, but we expected that plus more, actually. We were changing the focus of our company to being a pure ISP with a local-channel video service, so we kept all the data customers, which was about 80% of our total number. Since the move we have gained back most of the video subs we lost, mainly because we carry channels the satellites don't, plus some new subscribers, and our internet business has been great, still adding new customers in that dept.
I've seen estimates that say the new HEVC standard could take an HD signal down to close to 2 Mbps. Stay tuned.
Yes, I saw that, it's very interesting. I suppose the satellite receivers will cost $9-11,000 for each channel for that when it becomes available. LOL Like most small/medium-sized cable systems, we decided to just let Dish & DirecTV have the video business, and we will stick to being an ISP, something they just can't compete with….yet due to latency issues, high cost, etc. Get the highest speed connection you can afford and sell that to your customers and you'll do fine. Nowadays they can watch HD programming from Netflix, etc via their internet connection and be quite happy as long as you don't hobble them with caps. Don't act like the cellphone companies in this department and your customers will be beating down your door and stick with you for the long run.
It would be nice to see support for interlaced encoding akin to those found in AVC, I think the broadcast industry should put some pressure behind this….