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Can Cisco kill royalties for video codecs?

August 25, 2015 | Telepresence Options

Cisco_4K.jpg

Story and images by Caroline Gabriel / Rethink Wireless

Giant seeks power in critical area of video and mobile technology, with fee-free open source alternative to HEVC

Google made only limited headway against the might of the MPEG LA licensing body when it pushed its no-royalty alternative to H.264, VP8. Now a new round of wars over video codec standards - which will be essential to future mobile content experiences - has broken out. HEVC or H.265, is in the incumbent position, but is being battled by an open source challenger, this time from Cisco.

Cisco argues that HEVC has become too expensive, and too embroiled in a dangerous and costly patent war, to be the undisputed codec of choice for 4K and Ultra-HD video. As well as supporting those next generation video experiences on screens from large TVs to smartphones, HEVC technology will be important for more bandwidth-efficient Full HD delivery, bringing capacity relief to cellular and pay-TV networks.

History tells us that Cisco, with Project Thor, faces a long and painful battle, and the chances are H.265 will win out, though this may only happen if HEVC community can reunite. Earlier this year, it was split between two rival patent pools - MPEG LA, and a new group calling itself HEVC Advance.

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