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Tech Giants Align to Develop Higher Quality Digital Video

The new Alliance for Open Media plans to create new video compression technology by 2016 or 2017.  This technology will boost the quality of online videos, allow videos to download faster, and to look better. According to Stephen Shankland, writing for CNET, compression improvements will also make better use of the networks that deliver video to smartphones, computers, streaming-media devices, video game consoles, and TVs.

The members of the Alliance for Open Media include Cisco, Microsoft, Google, Intel, Mozilla, Amazon and Netflix. The alliance’s goal, according to Matt Frost, head of partnerships for Google’s Chrome Media team, is to “make sure the pace of innovation in video compression keeps pace with all video experiences that are being built.”

One of the motives behind this alliance is to avoid patent-licensing conflicts. The new alliance adopted an open-source, royalty-free approach to the technology.

The Alliance for Open Media is going up against the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG).  The members of MPEG include telecommunications, consumer electronics, and cable TV firms.  MPEG’s latest standard, HEVC/H.265, which greatly improves video quality, is a single standard that can handle almost all video.  However, patent licensing fees represent a barrier to its widespread adoption.

Shankland concludes that “even with some powerful tech players conspicuously missing, the alliance at least on paper looks more significant than any other challenger yet to H.264 and HEVC/H.265.”

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