New video standard is expected to be a bandwidth buster

Less than six months after its first live demonstration by Ericsson, a new video standard that's expected to revolutionize delivery of video to mobile devices has cleared its last hurdle before entering mainstream use.

The new video codec, called High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) or H.265, will "considerably ease the burden on global networks where, by some estimates, video accounts for more than half of bandwidth use," stated the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the multilateral standards body that approved use of HEVC Friday.

Video codecs are used in the digital world to encode data for transmission and decode it for playback.

According to the ITU, HEVC needs only half the bit rate of the current most widely used standard for Web video, H.264, which accounts for 80 percent of all Internet video.

"HEVC will unleash a new phase of innovation in video production spanning the whole [information and communication technology] spectrum, from mobile devices through to Ultra-High Definition TV," the ITU said in a statement.

With H.265, it's believed video producers will be able to push HD video at 1080p to broadband households with greater ease and to devices, like tablets and smartphones, often connected to bandwidth-constrained mobile networks.

Primed for 4K

The new codec is also seen as important for enabling streaming content for the next generation of ultraHD, or 4K, TV sets.

HEVC's predecessor, H.264, contributed to the rapid expansion of the video ecosystem, said ITU Secretary Hamadoun I. Touré in a statement. He noted that broad adoption of H.264 encouraged ecosystem players to use the open standard and forgo use of their own proprietary standards. That was a boon for consumers who were often frazzled by codec incompatibilities.

"The industry continues to look to ITU and its partners as the global benchmark for video compression, and I have no doubt that this new standard will be as effective as its predecessor in enabling the next wave of innovation in this fast-paced industry," Touré said.

However, not everyone was happy with H.264. Google pushed a royalties-free alternative to H.264 called WebM. That standard flopped, even though Google tried to boost its currency by announcing it intended to remove H.264 support from its popular Chrome browser.

According to the ITU, H.265 is a "flexible, reliable and robust solution, future-proofed to support the next decade of video."

"The new standard is designed to take account of advancing screen resolutions and is expected to be phased in as high-end products and services outgrow the limits of current network and display technology," it added.

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