Internet

Speedy Net video codec done, but late

Months behind schedule, a compression technology that promises to stream video over the Internet at DVD-worthy speeds passes a key milestone, say its developers.

The technical design of a compression technology that promises to stream video over the Internet at DVD-worthy speeds has been completed, according to the international standards team developing it.

But the widely anticipated standard, known as Recommendation H.264 of the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union (ITU), won't be ready for public consumption until March--three months behind schedule.

The standard was developed by the Joint Video Team (JVT), a joint effort between the Video Coding Experts Group within the ITU and the Moving Pictures Experts Group, a working group of the International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC). MPEG, responsible for the MPEG-4 audio-visual standard among others, just met in Awajishima, Japan.

The new compression technology has demonstrated data throughput of just under 1mbps in trials, paving the way for better Internet delivery of bandwidth-hogging video files.

While the ITU refers to the codec as Recommendation H.264, ISO calls it ISO/IEC 14496 10 Advanced Video Coding (AVC).

"Completing the technical design is a key milestone towards making this important standard available to the industry at large," said Gary Sullivan, chairman of the JVT and the ITU's Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG). "It's testimony to the efforts of the overall team that the technical design was completed in record time, paving the way for adoption of this exciting technology in 2003."


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The JVT said Tuesday it would complete the formal process of ratification by March 17, three months later than it had predicted in February.

The compression technology--which strips nonessential information from video files in order to let them travel more quickly over a network--originated at the ITU. But more recent contributions extend its potential applications to a wider variety of media and devices, according to the JVT.