Impact of the New Video Codec H.265

Jim Machi : Industry Insight
Jim Machi

Impact of the New Video Codec H.265

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In January, a new video codec called H.265 (also known as High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) was approved by the ITU-T.  This is significant for a couple of reasons:

It needs only half the bit rate of the best codec out there today (H.264) to provide the same or similar quality video.  You can even see it in this YouTube video.

Given that video is a massive use case for mobile data networks, estimated to be about half of mobile data traffic today with expectations of it garnering even more in the coming years, the improvement in quality while reducing the bandwidth requirement is a huge development.

Our engineering team doesn’t believe it will result in a 50 percent bandwidth savings even though it’s half the bit-rate. That’s because  a lot goes into the file size of a video, including computing power. Instead, we estimate it will initially save at least 25 to 30 percent in bandwidth and then up to 50 percent as the algorithm and optimization techniques advance later.  Use cases would also determine the savings with pre-encoded videos garnering up to 50 percent of bandwidth  savings, while real-time applications such as viewing football games online would be only 25 percent of savings.

Does this mean it will solve the mobile congestion issues? It’s too soon to say for sure. Some other things will need to happen first. For example, the ecosystem will need time to capture H.265 into devices, so it will be some time before we have H.265 devices en mass in the market.  And there could be a coming clash with WebRTC codecs that could potentially delay widespread adoption.

But assuming this is all worked out, would this new codec solve mobile congestion issues? Not completely, but it’s a contributing factor.  As I’ve also written before, there are many methods to solve mobile congestion, such as new technologies like H.265, and adding more bandwidth from deploying new towers, as well as offloading  data traffic to WiFi – all  optimization techniques enabled by Dialogic solutions.  All will be important to this.  This is an example of a new technology helping out.  And let’s remember human nature, too.  Once it’s easier and faster to view video, we’ll want more and larger file sizes.  And the more we watch, the more strain the networks will experience.  So this new technology won’t solve mobile congestion.  We’ll still need to consider multiple strategies and  techniques.

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