ITU Approves Next-Gen Video Standard

YouTube, Video © Palto Shutterstock 2012

The H.264 standard, also called HEVC, is intended to cut bandwidth usage in half for high-quality video transmission to Internet-connected devices

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has paved the way toward doubling the quality of video delivered over wireless gadgets such as smartphones with the approval of the H.265 video encoding standard, also known as High Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC).

The ITU gave first-stage approval to H.265 on Friday, and participating organisations have now moved on to extensions for the standard, including 3D and multiview encoding and support for more colour data. These extensions are scheduled to appear in January of next year, the ITU said.

Wide deployment

The standard succeeds H.264 (also known as MPEG-4 or Advanced Video Codec), which is used in video cameras, television transmissions, Blu-Ray discs, video conferencing, and other uses, including 80 percent of all web video, according to the ITU.

Video, YouTube © Nicemonkey Shutterstock 2012The standard is specifically designed to halve the bandwidth needed for high-definition video – or, put in other terms, doubling the video quality for the same bandwidth.

The standard supports display resolutions of up to 7,680×4,320 pixels, meaning it can support both 4K and 8K Ultra High Definition TV (UHDTV), according to the ITU.

The standard includes a still image format, a conventional video profile for video with colour data of up to 8 bits, as well as a high-end video profile, which supports 10-bit colour data.

One of the technology’s intended effects is to reduce the load video places on networks such as the Internet and mobile networks, while also supporting increasingly advanced network and display technology. The ITU said it expects the technology to be phased in gradually as it is required by new high-end products.


The ITU said companies including Broadcom, Ericsson and Mitsubishi have already demonstrated hardware implementations of the standard. These include Ericsson’s SVP 5500 HEVC encoder, which it called the first H.265-compatible live TV video encoder, demonstrated last August.

Video conferencing firm Vidyo in October demonstrated a next-generation system that takes advantage of H.265 to reduce bandwidth usage.

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