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 Monday, June 10, 2013

The highly-anticipated video coding standard, ITU-T H.265 ‘High Efficiency Video Coding’ (HEVC), is now available free of charge on the ITU website here.

Recommendation ITU-T H.265 is a technically-aligned twin text with International Standard ISO/IEC 23008-2. The standard was developed within the Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding (JCT-VC), a mechanism underscoring the longstanding collaboration of the ITU Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) and the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG).

ITU-T H.265 will need only half the bit rate of its predecessor, ITU-T H.264 | MPEG-4 Part 10 ‘Advanced Video Coding’ (AVC), which remains the most deployed video compression standard worldwide. 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.

The development of ITU-T H.265 was led by ITU-T Study Group 16 (Multimedia) and the standard was approved by ITU members on 13 April 2013 (detailed in a press release here).

April also saw the approval of the latest edition of HEVC's predecessor, ITU-T H.264. Ten years old this year, ITU-T H.264 is now in its eighth edition and is available free of charge on the ITU website here. The latest edition contains an additional profile for multiview video coding with depth information (the Multiview and Depth profile) as well as additional colourimetry identifiers and improvements to supplemental enhancement information (SEI) messages.

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Monday, June 10, 2013 11:21:17 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The ITU IPv6 IPTV Global Testbed has undergone a significant expansion with the connection of South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

CSIR's Meraka Institute is the country’s leading national ICT research institute and the main hub of SANReN (South African National Research Network), a large-scale government project that provides network connectivity between organizations specialized in higher education and research.

The international ITU IPv6 IPTV Global Testbed was established by ITU-T in collaboration with Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), Hokkaido Television Broadcasting (HTB) and OKI. The backbone to this international IPTV experiment is established through extended connectivity between SANReN and NICT’s IPv6 research network, JGN-X (Japan Gigabit Network-eXtreme).

Core ITU standards underpinning the experiment include Recommendation ITU-T H.721’s IPTV terminal for Video on Demand (VoD) and Linear TV, ITU-T H.762’s Lightweight Interactive Multimedia Environment (LIME) for interactive IPTV services, and ITU-T H.264’s video encoding. High-definition IPTV content encoded in H.264 is being delivered over IPv6 between CSIR and other testbed locations, interactively controlled by H.762 on H.721-compliant terminals.

The news marks the first-ever IPTV testbed in Africa. Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, will be the next location to join the project with preparations already underway between ITU-T Study Group 16 (Multimedia) and Rwanda’s proposed host of the testbed.

The ongoing expansion of ITU’s Global Testbed capitalizes on the success of a series of transcontinental IPTV experiments held over the past two years. For the second year running, ITU-standardized IPTV technologies were deployed in an international IPTV experiment held in conjunction with the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, 5-11 February 2013. Run over ITU’s IPTV IPv6 Global Testbed, the experiment was successful in its ambitious attempt to employ ten software-defined networks (SDNs) simultaneously.

IPTV services were used to live-stream scenes from Sapporo and to provide supporting Video on Demand (VoD) segments, accompanied by integrated social media tools and a remotely-provided captioning service. A particularly notable achievement was the use of RISE (Research Infrastructure for large-Scale network Experiments), a next-generation Internet based on OpenFlow, to deliver IPTV content to Singapore where IPv4 and IPv6 were combined virtually (Read the full story on the Sapporo experiment in an earlier newslog article here).

For more on ITU-T’s work on IPTV, please see ITU’s IPTV Global Standards Initiative.

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Monday, June 10, 2013 11:14:13 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cooperation between ITU and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has produced a new metadata standard to enable rights information interoperability in IPTV services. The standard provides a framework for communicating data such as that accompanying material under copyright, to ensure that multimedia content can be shared legally across different platforms.

Recommendation ITU-T H.751 “Metadata for rights information interoperability in IPTV services” is technically aligned with IEC 62698 “Multimedia home server systems – Rights information interoperability for IPTV”. The parallel standard is the product of collaboration  between experts from IEC Technical Committee 100 (Audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment) and ITU-T Study Group 16 (Multimedia coding, systems and applications).

“Metadata” refers to data describing aspects of other data, or information about information presented in the form of “structured, encoded data that describe characteristics of information-bearing entities to aid in the identification, discovery, assessment and management of the described entities” (Recommendation ITU-T Y.1901).

IPTV metadata is information on multimedia services and content which provides a descriptive and structural framework for managing IPTV services spanning television, audio, video, text, graphics and data. “Rights information metadata” in particular refers to information on the rights granted to end-users of multimedia content, stipulating pre-defined ‘utilization functions’  including permissions to view/hear, copy, modify, record, excerpt, sample, store or distribute content; restrictions on times or hours content can be played, viewed or heard; and obligations such as payment.

To date, a lack of interoperability in rights information metadata has meant that consumers are at risk of being locked into solutions offered by a single service provider. A user’s purchased rights to multimedia content are dependent on and bound to the rights held by the service provider. In addition, service providers employ different technologies and systems in the management of digital content and associated rights information.

ITU-T H.751 | IEC 62698 provides clear mechanisms or rules for flexible digital distribution that allows for simple exchanges of content, enabling service providers to implement common interpretation and integration of rights information. The standard targets interoperability to ensure that service providers and device manufacturers can easily exchange rights information across their current content management systems. It gives the high-level specification of the metadata for rights information interoperability (RII), defining the common semantics and core elements on RII. In other words, it finds the greatest common denominators in rights expressions (syntactic embodiments of rights) to encourage the mutual use of rights information.

The standard also specifies rights-related information – such as ‘content ID’, ‘permission issuer ID’ and ‘permission receiver ID’ – used to bridge between rights-related metadata. The rights information covered by ITU-T H.751 | IEC 62698 includes rights- and security-related metadata described in Recommendation ITU T H.750 High-level specification of metadata for IPTV services.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013 1:28:52 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, February 12, 2013

For the second year running, ITU-standardized IPTV technologies have been deployed in an international IPTV experiment held in conjunction with the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, 5-11 February 2013. The experiment ran over ITU’s IPTV IPv6 Global Testbed and was successful in its ambitious attempt to employ ten software-defined networks (SDNs) simultaneously.

ITU headquarters in Geneva received high-definition IPTV content from the head-end server in Japan via a native end-to-end IPv6 connection, participating alongside broadcasters, government agencies, network operators, manufacturers and research institutes from Japan, Singapore and the Philippines.

IPTV services were used to live-stream scenes from Sapporo and to provide supporting Video on Demand (VoD) segments, accompanied by integrated social media tools and a remotely-provided captioning service. A particular achievement was the use of RISE, a next-generation Internet based on OpenFlow, to deliver IPTV content to Singapore where IPv4 and IPv6 were combined virtually (more on ITU and IPv6 here).

Core ITU standards underpinning the experiment included Recommendation ITU-T H.721’s IPTV terminal for Video on Demand (VoD) and Linear TV, and ITU-T H.762’s Lightweight Interactive Multimedia Environment (LIME) for interactive IPTV services.

Building on the success of similar events in 2012, Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), Hokkaido Television Broadcasting (HTB) and OKI continue to provide the infrastructure underlying what has become known as ITU’s IPTV IPv6 Global Testbed.

The experiment was organized by NICT and conducted over its IPv6 research network, Japan Gigabit Network-eXtreme (JGN-X). Other participating organizations included ASTEM, MediaEdge, NTT, NTT Communications, NTT Electronics and Sumitomo Electric Networks from Japan; the Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) from Singapore; Ateneo de Manila University, Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) and the Information and Communications Technology Office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST ICTO) from the Philippines; and Swisscom from Switzerland.

Such experiments – together with ITU IPTV Interoperability events – are important steps towards broadening the IPTV market through globally-interoperable services. Standardized IPTV will lead to a whole new market for innovation, and ITU standards will ensure this market remains open, competitive and accessible to all.

ITU-T Study Group 16 is producing the standards required to drive widespread adoption of IPTV. Global standards will lower the costs of these services for vendors and consumers, avoiding costly ‘format wars’ and enabling rollouts of the technology to a scale not achievable with proprietary solutions.

For more on ITU-T’s work on IPTV, please see ITU’s IPTV Global Standards Initiative.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013 10:14:59 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, February 08, 2013

ITU headquarters in Geneva has hosted a showcase of ITU-standardized multimedia solutions targeting a better quality of life through innovations in high-definition content delivery, interactive entertainment, e-health services, and the accessibility of audiovisual media to persons with disabilities.

The demonstrations were given by prominent market players and research institutes for the benefit of delegates attending meetings of ITU-T Study 16 (Multimedia) and Study Group 9 (Broadband cable and TV); the expert groups responsible for IPTV and Smart Cable TV standardization, respectively.

IPTV demonstrations included ASTEM’s (Japan) remotely-provided subtitling and captioning solution for IPTV services; a mobile IPTV service from South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; and selected applications from ITU’s 2nd IPTV Application Challenge: "A better quality of life".

The 2nd IPTV Application Challenge booth showcased an IPTV e-health application using Continua Health Alliance-compliant e-health devices integrated with ITU-T IPTV services, developed by the Institute for Infocomm Research (Singapore) and the NTT Service Integration Lab (Japan). The booth also featured an accessibility-oriented application from Chulalongkorn University (Thailand) designed to teach its user how to communicate using sign language.

Core ITU standards underlying the IPTV showcase included Recommendation ITU-T H.721’s IPTV terminal for Video on Demand (VoD) and Linear TV, and ITU-T H.762’s Lightweight Interactive Multimedia Environment (LIME) for IPTV services. The IPTV equipment was provided by OKI and Sumitomo Electric Networks.

On the Smart Cable TV front, KDDI demonstrated an implementation of Recommendation ITU-T J.296’s integrated broadcast cable set-top boxes. The demo highlighted advanced smart cable features to undergo future standardization – a project currently being discussed by ITU-T’s Focus Group on Smart Cable TV (FG SmartCable) which has approved an intensive action plan aimed at finalizing its deliverables by October 2013. The group has scheduled three physical meetings for 2013: in April, Cambridge (UK); June, Atlanta (USA); and September, Tokyo (Japan).

In addition, an ETRI demo gave experts a view of the enhanced quality of images compressed using a hardware implementation of the newly consented ITU-T H.265 | ISO/IEC 23008-2 high efficiency video coding (HEVC). HEVC is the successor to the Primetime Emmy award winning ITU-T H.264 video compression codec. The new standard ITU-T H.265 will need only half the bit rate of its predecessor and this doubling of compression efficiency will be essential to the provision of high-quality video in mobile applications and ultra-high definition TV (UHDTV).

ITU-T Study Group 16 and Study Group 9 are producing the standards required to drive widespread global adoption of innovative multimedia solutions such as IPTV and Smart Cable TV. Global standards will lower the costs of these services for vendors and consumers, avoiding costly ‘format wars’ and enabling rollouts of the technology to a scale not achievable with proprietary solutions.

For more on ITU-T’s work on Smart Cable TV, please see ITU-T’s Focus Group on Smart Cable TV.

For more on ITU-T’s work on IPTV, please see ITU’s IPTV Global Standards Initiative.

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Friday, February 08, 2013 4:13:25 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Meeting in Geneva, 30 April to 11 May, ITU-T Study Group 16 – ITU’s lead study group on multimedia coding, systems and applications – in collaboration with the ISO/IEC JTC1 SC29 Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG) - agreed to the development of 3D extensions to the Primetime Emmy award winning H.264 and the new High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard. Further, building on the HEVC collaboration under the JCT-VC (see previous story), SG 16 also agreed to a Call for Proposals for Scalability Coding Extension to the new video codec.

In addition SG16 has approved the first ITU-T Recommendation on digital signage: ITU-T H.780, Digital signage: Service requirements and IPTV-based architecture. It is the first in a series of ITU-T standards aiming to stimulate the roll-out of digital signage technologies. Centrally-managed, large-scale networks of high-definition digital displays are of key value to companies in targeting and engaging with consumers, as well to municipalities and governments in communicating vital information to the public. The proprietary nature of current digital signage solutions not only restricts the integration of applications across different networks and vendors, but also makes solutions more expensive and can be prohibitive for small and medium enterprises. ITU International standards are therefore required as the common platform to unlock the industry’s multi-billion dollar potential.

The meeting also saw various new and updated voice and image coding standards entering the approval process. The complete list of results can be found here.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012 8:37:21 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, February 08, 2012

An international experiment deploying ITU-standardized IPTV technologies has taken place 6-8 February 2012. IPTV services were used to live-stream scenes from the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan and to provide supporting Video-on-Demand (VoD) segments.

ITU Headquarters in Geneva received the stream from the head-end server in Japan, participating alongside organizations from Japan, Singapore and Thailand in what is the first transcontinental broadcast of a live event using IPTV technology standardized end-to-end by ITU. The connection uses native IPv6 from ITU Headquarters to Japan.

Proprietary IPTV services have hampered the growth of this exciting new market, and such experiments - together with ITU IPTV Interoperability events – are important steps towards broadening the IPTV market through globally-interoperable services. Standardized IPTV will lead to a whole new market for innovation, and ITU standards will ensure this market remains open, competitive and accessible to all.

First approved in 2009, Recommendation ITU-T H.762, a “Lightweight Interactive Multimedia Environment” (LIME) for IPTV services, is the standard with which Sapporo’s live-stream IPTV application complies. Hokkaido Television Broadcasting (HTB) developed this application, and is one of many broadcasters, manufacturers and research institutes involved in the IPTV experiments. The experiments have been organized by Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications (NICT) and are being conducted over its IPv6 research network, Japan Gigabit Network-eXtreme (JGN-X).

Other ITU-T IPTV standards also formed part of the infrastructure: H.770 IPTV Service discovery, H.721 IPTV terminal for VoD and Linear TV, H.701 IPTV Error correction, H.750 IPTV Metadata and the Primetime Emmy Award winning H.264 Video compression codec. The experiments also used Openflow, PCE/VNTM and sa46t.

For more on ITU’s IPTV standardization work, please see ITU’s IPTV Global Standards Initiative here.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012 2:54:09 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, January 30, 2012

The two latest reports from ITU-T’s Policy and Technology Watch Division – on video games and digital signage - feature prominently in the January issue of ITU News. Published in all six official ITU languages, the issue provides a snapshot of today’s ICT ecosystem and the global ITU activities and events which aid in giving it shape.

Video games today entertain a broad cross-section of consumers and represent an extremely profitable and still rapidly growing industry. September 2011’s Technology Watch Report on “Trends in Video Games and Gaming” brings light to the major gaming terminals and platforms, game forms and genres, and how the advent of social media and mobile gaming are augmenting an already highly-networked gaming culture.

Digital signage is poised to become a very large industry, in a very short space of time. Standardization is key to the development and accessibility of digital signage technologies, and a December 2011 workshop in Tokyo, organized by ITU and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan, aimed to share ideas and insight on advanced digital signage service features and requirements, current best practices and existing standardization activities of key players. The event addressed digital signage technologies and the related standardization work being undertaken in ITU-T Study Group 16. For an in-depth view of digital signage and its market, see November 2011’s Technology Watch Report, “Digital Signage: the right information in all the right places.”

Experts from industry, research institutions and academia are invited to submit topic proposals and abstracts for future reports in the Technology Watch series. Please contact tsbtechwatch@itu.int for details and guidelines.

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Monday, January 30, 2012 3:07:51 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, November 21, 2011

ITU is organizing a two-day Workshop on Digital Signage in Tokyo, Japan, 13-14 December 2011.

Digital signage, also the topic of an upcoming ITU-T Technology Watch Report, is defined as a, “network of digital displays that are centrally managed and addressable for targeted information, entertainment, merchandising and advertisement.” User interaction can trigger content adaption, and the level of this interaction will develop alongside location information and environmental sensor technology.

The workshop will provide a comprehensive introduction to digital signage technology, how it is currently being applied, and how it is likely to expand in the future. Particular emphasis will be placed on how standards are to play a key role in ensuring this technology meets its potential.

The proprietary nature of current digital signage solutions restricts the integration of applications across different networks or vendors.

Interoperable standards are thus crucial to the development of this industry. The great value it will unlock for its providers and users can only be achieved through the expansion of large-scale digital signage networks, and standardization is the means to ensure this expansion occurs as
cost-effectively and as rapidly as possible.

For detailed event information, please consult  http://www.itu.int/ITU-T/worksem/iptv/201112/index.html. Remote participation is available and encouraged; enter the room by following this link, http://itu.adobeconnect.com/itudigitalsignage/.


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Monday, November 21, 2011 2:58:45 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The 2012 IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award is being presented to Gisle Bjontegaard, of Tandberg Telecom (now Cisco Systems Norway); Gary Sullivan, of Microsoft Corporation; and Thomas Wiegand, of the Berlin University of Technology, "for leadership and technical contributions to the development of the globally deployed video coding standard ITU-T H.264/MPEG4-AVC." These three innovators – who are also lead experts in ITU video coding work – will receive their award at the IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE). Held annually in conjunction with the International Consumer Electronics Show, the conference will take place in Las Vegas, 13-16 January 2012.

Sponsored by Sony Corporation, this award recognises outstanding contributions in the field of consumer electronics technology, and is yet more recognition of the enormous success enjoyed by the H.264 codec. Already the recipient of a Primetime Emmy award, the codec continues to receive the praise and support of the ICT community.

ITU-T's Study Group 16 and ISO/IEC's Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG) have formed the Joint Collaborative Team on video coding (JCT-VC) to work on the successor to H.264 (also standardized as ISO/IEC 14496-10, or MPEG-4 AVC). This successor – working title HEVC – is currently being formulated with approval expected in early 2013.

HEVC is likely to have native 3D capability, ensuring that this fast-paced industry can profit from standardized solutions. To many consumers, 3D TV is quickly becoming a very attractive, attainable product – and standards-based solutions will only add to a more vibrant set of offerings.

 

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011 4:39:44 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, March 28, 2011
ITU was, last week, pleased to host a meeting of the Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG) in parallel with the ITU-T Study Group 16 (Multimedia) meeting. Through MPEG, the ITU and ISO/IEC have formed the Joint Collaborative Team on video coding (JCT-VC) working on the successor to H.264 (also standardized as ISO/IEC 14496-10, or MPEG-4 AVC), the Emmy award winning video coding standard.

There was a demonstration of emerging 3D TV technologies such as autostereoscopic displays (similar to that used in the new Nintendo 3DS but on a larger scale). This new technology allows for 3D viewing without glasses.

Current extensions to the widely used H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec are deployed in Blu-ray 3D discs that provide a stereo 3D experience, and also in the "frame-compatible" stereoscopic 3D video used in emerging broadcast applications.

The successor to H.264 – working title HEVC – is work in progress with approval expected in early 2013. Experts say that at the time H.264 was first approved there was no real market demand for 3D and so 3D support was essentially put into the standard later as a work around – even though it provides excellent levels of quality. Discussions continue on which kind of native support for 3D could eventually be incorporated in HEVC.

This work is complementary to that of ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector which is focusing on a framework for 3D TV broadcasting systems.

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Monday, March 28, 2011 1:15:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, August 09, 2010
Telepresence is broadly speaking next generation videoconferencing that also takes into account users' position, actions and voice to render as close as possible a representation of a real life meeting.

Many products exist today that, although they are based on established protocols including ITU-T H.323, lack interoperability due to proprietary extensions.

Telepresence represents an important evolution of the videoconferencing market. Standards fuelled interoperability between systems is seen as a key way to drive the market. The trend is expected to accelerate, as mainstream video applications begin to offer telepresence features.

Malcolm Johnson, Director, ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, said: "We don't expect each end of a phone call to be dependent on the manufacturer of the phone being the same. The same should be true for telepresence. Anyone who has used a telepresence system will testify to its remarkable quality, it truly is the next best thing to a face to face meeting. However proprietary solutions have stifled the market. ITU's standards initiative will allow us all to profit from this remarkable technology."

Specifically the new work will focus on standardizing full interoperability between telepresence systems, including facilitating the coherent presentation of multiple audio and video streams so that participants show correct eye contact, gestures etc, to give a more real life like experience.

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Monday, August 09, 2010 10:22:04 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, July 06, 2010
The H.264 Advanced Video Compression Standard is the title of a new book detailing ITU-T’s widely adopted, and Primetime Emmy award winning H.264 video codec.

ITU-T H.264 is fundamental to a growing range of markets such as high definition broadcasting, internet video sharing, mobile video and digital surveillance.

Author - Iain E. Richardson - explains some of the details of the book in this webcast (registration necessary) - http://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/21438.

The H.264 Advanced Video Compression Standard reflects the growing importance and implementation of H.264 video technology. Offering a detailed overview of the system, it explains the syntax, tools and features of H.264 and equips readers with practical advice on how to get the most out of the standard.

It provides:
•    Examples and illustrations to explain H.264 technology in an accessible and practical way.
•    Basic video coding concepts, video formats and visual quality.
•    Details on how to measure and optimise the performance of H.264 and how to balance bitrate, computation and video quality.
•    Analysis of recent work on scalable and multi-view versions of H.264, case studies of H.264 codecs and new technological developments such as the popular High Profile extensions.

"[This book] unravels the mysteries behind the latest H.264 standard and delves deeper into each of the operations in the codec. The reader can implement (simulate, design, evaluate, optimize) the codec with all profiles and levels. The book ends with extensions and directions (such as SVC and MVC) for further research."  Professor K. R. Rao, The University of Texas at Arlington, co-inventor of the Discrete Cosine Transform.

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010 1:05:30 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, January 28, 2010

Leading standards bodies, ITU-T and ISO/IEC have launched a new project that seeks to better the Emmy award winning Advanced Video Codec ITU-T Rec. H.264 | ISO/IEC 14496-10.

The announcement on the new Joint Collaborative Team (JCT) accompanies finalization of a recent call for proposals on a successor to the H.264/14496-10 codec that has been widely adopted by the telecom, broadcast, and digital storage media industries.

ITU-T and ISO/IEC-MPEG are the pre-eminent standards bodies in the area of digital video compression and have collaborated in the past to produce H.264/14496-10 and the MPEG-2 Video and Systems Standards (also known as ISO/IEC 13818, and ITU-T H.262 and H.222.0).

The Video Coding JCT will consist of a group of video coding experts from ITU-T Study Group 16 (VCEG) and ISO/IEC JTC 1 SC 29 / WG 11 (MPEG). The group will meet to coincide with meetings of ITU-T SG16 and/or MPEG and aims at the new standard for 2012.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010 11:20:34 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, November 30, 2009

Two new ITU standards in the field of IPTV have recently been agreed.

The first – Recommendation ITU-T H.740 - will enable a greater level of two way communication in IPTV services. For example it will support interactive services such as voting and e-commerce while also allowing better provision for emergency alerts and audience monitoring. Simply put the standard prescribes behaviour for an IPTV terminal in the case of receiving these instructions from either a broadcaster or a user.

More technically, H.740 "Application Event Handling for IPTV services" provides a framework of application event handling in IPTV services. An application event is describes as a specific user interaction or occurrence related with multimedia content. One of the characteristics of the new standard is that it gives a careful provision of privacy protection, with differing degrees of security.

The second standard - Recommendation ITU-T H.762 - "Lightweight interactive multimedia framework for IPTV services (LIME)" gives a subset of html and javascript for use in IPTV terminals. LIME is described as being very strictly profiled so that it can be used on a resource-limited devices like TV-sets. LIME can support interactivity like widgets and portals, as well as AJAX-like applications on IPTV. LIME can be used with basic services like video-on-demand (VOD), linear (channel) service (over IP), and EPG (extended programme guide). The expected main user interface is a remote controller.

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Monday, November 30, 2009 2:14:27 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The ITU group responsible for the development of the Primetime Emmy award winning video coding standard ITU-T H.264 (which is also standardized as ISO/IEC 14496-10) has issued a draft call for proposals for new video coding technology. The final call for proposals is expected to be issued in January 2010, and it may be issued jointly with ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29/WG11 (MPEG).

ITU-T Study Group 16 is asking for proposals that give substantially increased compression relative to existing standards.

The proposals will be evaluated using formal subjective tests with the results made public. A proposal evaluation meeting is planned for April 2010. Depending on the proposed technology, a final resulting standard may be developed by July 2012.

Details here.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009 10:54:16 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, October 21, 2009
ITU voice coding and home networking articles published by IEEE

The latest IEEE Communications Magazine (subscription needed) contains a special feature on ITU-T Coders For Wideband, Superwideband, and Fullband Speech Communication. In addition the issue contains an overview of the new G.hn home networking standard from ITU.

The feature is part of a formalised cooperation between the standardization sector of ITU (ITU-T) and IEEE Communications Society. Also published recently are the best papers from the first Kaleidoscope academic conference.

The articles on speech coding:
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009 1:36:53 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, July 17, 2009
The new ITU-T G.711.0 standard will give increased efficiency to ITU-T G.711, the most used voice coding in global telephony systems.

The key selling point for customers and operators alike is the fact that G.711.0 gives as much as a 50 percent reduction in bandwidth use while showing absolutely no degradation of sound quality, thanks to its lossless compression algorithm.

Solid support for the standard by some of the major players – operators and vendors – means that we will likely see quick implementation in products.

Experts say that the standard has very low computational complexity and is thus very easy to implement on a wide range of telecommunication/ICT platforms.

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Friday, July 17, 2009 9:14:28 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, June 29, 2009
ITU has given first stage approval (consent) to a new standard that enables an IPTV end user to locate and subscribe to content coming from different, independent service providers.

The standard will enable a greater deal of choice for end-users and will help service providers offer a more competitive package.

Recommendation ITU-T H.770 - Mechanisms for service discovery and selection for IPTV - describes the mechanisms for service provider discovery, service discovery and selection. Services such as linear TV and video-on-demand are addressed with metadata that describes programming and delivery protocols detailed.

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Monday, June 29, 2009 2:32:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, May 01, 2009

A new white paper by Polycom highlights “G.719: The First ITU-T Standard for Full-Band Audio”.

Recommendation ITU-T G.719 describes a coding algorithm for conversational speech and audio supporting the full human auditory bandwidth (from 20 Hz to 20 kHz), that is, all sounds that a human can hear.

The paper concludes that “major technical achievements of the G.719 codec are its high quality and low complexity that make it perfect for devices ranging from telephones and low-power mobile devices to soft clients and to high end video and telepresence systems.” First products implementing ITU-T G.719 are expected to appear in 2009/2010.

The standard was developed in Study Group 16, ITU-T’s lead Study Group on multimedia coding, systems and applications, and adopted in June 2008.

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Friday, May 01, 2009 8:59:57 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, December 12, 2008

The first global standard offering an in-home, high-speed network capable of delivering room-to-room HDTV has been agreed by ITU. The standard, published under the G.hn banner, promises high quality multimedia over power, coaxial, phone and other home wiring. It will give up to 20 times the throughput of existing wireless technologies and three times that of existing wired technologies.

The specifications will be used by chip manufacturers to build transceivers that can be incorporated into set-top boxes, residential gateways, home computers, home audio systems, DVD players, TVs or any other device that might be connected to a network now or in the future. Experts say that silicon companies will immediately start incorporating the specifications into transceivers, implying that G.hn-compliant products could be on the market as early as 2010.

Joyce Putscher, Principal Analyst at market research firm In-Stat, said, “Service operators have been looking for an international standard that encompasses multiple existing-wire mediums for video distribution. G.hn meets that requirement and it seems clear that with significant industry backing from service providers, semiconductor and equipment vendors, and the fast rate at which the process is moving to achieve a standard, we will see first equipment by 2010.”

“There’s a clear market need for a unified networking approach,” said Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau. “With G.hn, every wire in every home around the world can become part of a home entertainment network. This will enable seamless communication between computers, HDTVs and telephones over existing wires. I expect that this exciting new technology will also foster innovations such as energy efficient smart appliances, home automation and telemedicine devices.”

Work on G.hn was started at the instigation of service providers looking to extend broadband and video services in the home. As well as its offer of greater speed, it may be bundled as complementary to Wi-Fi where G.hn offers greater coverage, extending, for example, to areas of a house where Wi-Fi does not reach.

The standard has achieved remarkable industry backing even before its publication. An industry group — the HomeGrid Forum — has been formed specifically to back G.hn. The goal of HomeGrid Forum is to market G.hn worldwide and to create a compliance and interoperability programme to ensure that products based on the standard will operate in any home around the world.

Other industry analysts backing the standard include Michael Wolf, Research Director at ABI Research. “If G.hn sees integration into carrier devices by 2010, we expect that some 42 million G.hn-compliant nodes will ship in 2013 in devices such as set-top boxes, residential gateways and other service provider CPE hardware,” Wolf said.

“A single, unified technology for multimedia networks over power lines, coaxial cable, and phone lines has the potential to enable a simple, easy-to-use means of networking devices in the home,” said Kurt Scherf, analyst with market analyst firm Parks Associates. “We believe ITU’s work is an important step towards eliminating fragmentation in the industry and in achieving the vision of a networked home.”

Recommendation ITU-T G.9960 focuses on the physical or PHY layer, giving the data bit rate and quality of service necessary for triple-play residential services as well as business-type services delivered over xDSL, PON, or other access technology. In step with ITU guidelines on new standards development, several power saving modes have been incorporated. Ongoing work is focused on the media access control (MAC) layer.

Friday, December 12, 2008 1:08:25 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The latest issue of IEEE Communications Magazine features a number of articles on ITU-T.

As well as a general article on the challenges faced by ITU-T, more detailed pieces focus on working methods, initiatives on climate change, audio coding, optical transport and bridging the standardization gap.

An electronic version of the publication can be seen here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008 12:58:34 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, September 01, 2008
Monday, September 01, 2008 9:58:10 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, April 21, 2008

ITU-T IPTV experts Ghassem Koleyni and Simon Jones will lead a live web seminar (webinar) on IPTV standardization, May 7 at 1600 CET.

Click here to register, for the webinar hosted by industry analyst Heavy Reading. By registering you will be able to listen to and take part in discussion as well as view presentation slides.

Koleyni and Jones will present standardization from an ITU perspective with experts from other standards bodies, including the DSL Forum and ATIS, explaining how they have worked with ITU to produce the first set of global IPTV specifications, available here. Malcolm Johnson, Director ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau said: “I encourage anyone involved in the deployment of IPTV services at any level to take this opportunity to learn about this important set of standards as well as quiz our experts on the topic.

We have already seen first generation IPTV services and as these mature we may see a change in regulation or market demand that will require interoperation between service and/or network providers. A potential outcome of this will be that a customer can go into shop, buy an IPTV box, call their network operator and sign-up and then access services from a range of third party service providers. It is to meet that need that the value of ITU’s work on standardisation will be realised. ”

If you can’t join the live event registration will give access to an archive file of the event.

Monday, April 21, 2008 9:04:31 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, February 21, 2008

ITU-T’s Study Group 16 has completed work on G.711.1 – the new scalable wideband extension of the voice codec used in the majority of fixed-line digital systems - ITU-T Recommendation G.711. G.711.1 will significantly improve voice quality in VoIP calls by offering wideband quality while keeping bitstream interoperability with the G.711 narrowband legacy codec. Wideband offers far greater audio quality by making voice sound more natural and by greatly improving both intelligibility and listening comfort. Wideband also allows service providers to offer a wider variety of services. Widely deployed this bitstream-interoperable wideband extension of narrowband codecs will allow smooth transition from narrowband (300-3400 Hz) PSTN quality telephony to high-quality wideband (50-7000Hz) telephony over IP networks as well as efficient deployment in existing infrastructures.

G.711.1 can operate either at 80 or 96 kbit/s in wideband, and at 64 or 80 kbit/s in narrowband. Furthermore, the 64 kbit/s core layer mode enables seamless interoperability with systems equipped only with G.711. Besides this backward compatibility, another key attribute is its embedded coding feature that allows dropping part of the bitstream/payload on-the-fly during a call by simple truncation of the embedded bitstream at any entity in the middle of the network such as a gateway or a signal mixer at multi-point control unit (MCU). This avoids network congestion and facilitates interoperability with G.711 legacy narrowband systems. Besides these two main advantages, G.711.1 has a very short delay and low complexity, it also supports partial mixing that drastically reduces MCU complexity and delay.

G.711's roots can be traced back as far as the 1970s, it has become truly the lingua franca of voice telephony. The new ITU-T Recommendation enriches the existing standard while ensuring backwards compatibility and interoperability.

The new standard will drive the market for wideband applications. Launched in 2006, wideband telephony over fixed-line broadband access is gaining momentum; wideband telephony over mobile will soon start following the 2008 Mobile World Congress announcement of wideband-enabled 3G phones shipping in the 3rd quarter of 2008. Wideband services are expected to be one of the driving factors in next generation networks (NGN).

Thursday, February 21, 2008 1:43:17 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 9:59:49 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, December 17, 2007
 Monday, November 19, 2007

Do you remember your last video conference? Blurry faces on tiny screens, with sound that doesn’t quite synchronize with the stilted movement of the lips. After the laborious setup of cameras and microphones, you seem to spend more time worrying about technical problems than talking about the topic at hand, with repeated loss of connection. As frustration grows, and attention wanders, it is difficult to avoid the feeling that you should have arranged a face-to-face meeting instead.

 

A new set of technologies – referred to as Telepresence – will give users the illusion of sitting on the opposite side of the remote party’s conference table. High-definition (HD) video images and audio are transmitted via packed-based Next-Generation Networks (NGN), connecting conference rooms around the world, and covering distances of thousands of miles with zero latency. While the network infrastructure remains transparent to the user, vendors equip conference rooms with high-end displays, cameras, loudspeakers and furniture to enhance the conferencing experience. Telepresence-systems are already available on the market, and involved companies go as far as identifying the technology as a potential billion dollar market, for solution vendors as well as for network service providers (NSP).

 

A new ITU-T Briefing Report on Telepresence has been released as part of the Technology Watch function, which evaluates the market potential and different fields of application of Telepresence solutions in both, developed and developing countries. The report notes the standardization work currently going on in ITU, including the consideration of migrating currently used multimedia protocols, such as H.323 and SIP into a new generation of multimedia protocols, called H.325 or Advanced Multimedia Systems (AMS), that takes into consideration special aspects of security, flexibility, QoS, and support for mobile devices. This report is the second of a new series of Technology Watch Briefing Reports looking at emerging new technologies.

Monday, November 19, 2007 11:23:00 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, November 16, 2007

Study Group 9 consented Recommendations on IPTV and advanced HDTV proposals during meetings held Oct. 29 - Nov. 2, Louisville, Colorado.

The meeting saw participation from all around the world with several delegates from developing countries including Kenya, India and Trinidad and Tobago.

Recommendation J.700 - IPTV Service Requirements and Framework for Secondary Distribution - defines service level requirements and an architectural framework for telecommunication networks to provide new services based on IPTV. It refers to "secondary distribution" which means use of a transmission channel for distribution of video/audio programs to users at large, for example by an over-the-air broadcast channel or by means of a fiber or cable network.

The Recommendation is extensive and includes requirements for network elements as well as customer premises equipment (CPE), including middleware application interfaces which consist of software libraries that provide uniform access to system services. It leverages existing deployed technologies, such as MPEG, DOCSIS, GEM (Globally Executable MHP), and IPCablecom to provide a smooth path for operators to integrate IPTV technology into their networks. While in the process of developing this Recommendation considerable liaison with other Study Groups and the IPTV Focus Group was carried out.

In addition to the IPTV work, Recommendations relating to second - and third - generation IPCablecom were consented. Equipment based on IPCablecom Recommendations, such as modems, set-top boxes, signalling equipment, interactive television application platform interfaces, digital program insertion, and others have had widespread implementation in networks in Asia, Europe, and North America.

The new Recommendations add to a suite of more than 25 which have been developed for cable and hybrid networks primarily designed for television and sound program delivery to the home.

Large screen digital imagery (LSDI) is a family of digital imagery systems that includes very large screen presentation of programmes similar to the non-digital IMAX and OMNIMAX systems. LSDI is described as an optimal approach to the presentation of high-definition television (HDTV) programmes, to a collective audience on cinema-like screens in a cinema-like environment. An earlier approved Recommendation J.600 addresses use of a broadband service or channel for transferring audio or video information to a production center where post-production processing may take place before subsequent distribution. At this meeting work towards a new Recommendation - Network Service Operator's Requirements for Real-time Transmission of exLSDI Signals under Parallel Processing Functionality - was significantly progressed. This Recommendation is related to the transport of program signals conforming to the higher levels of the LSDI expanded hierarchy as used for contribution and primary distribution. The term contribution means use of a broadband service or channel for transferring audio or video information to a production center where post-production processing may take place before subsequent distribution. Primary distribution is the use of a transmission channel for transferring audio and/or video information from a production center to one or several destination points; for example, to a broadcast transmitting center or the headend of a cable distribution network. Work on LSDI takes place with interactions between ITU-T Study Group 9, ITU-R Study Group 6, and other bodies external to the ITU.

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Friday, November 16, 2007 2:55:21 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, September 20, 2007

ITU hosted a Workshop on Multimedia in Next Generation Networks (NGN), 10-11 September 2007, to discuss future multimedia services and applications. Among many presentations, Peer-to-peer (P2P) telecom solutions, by Ning Zong, research engineer at Huawei Technologies (China), considered the use P2P technology in the field of person-to-person communications.

It is only recently with the increased popularity of video sharing that P2P traffic has lost premier position in Internet use statistics to HTTP – web – traffic. Traffic generated by P2P applications now accounts for 37 per cent of Internet traffic.

Perhaps best known as the technology which enabled music file sharing, P2P technology can also enable applications such as video or voice over IP. The technology is deployed by Skype, which claims some 198 million registered users worldwide.

In contrast to the traditional centralized client-server approach, which requires a high level of investment in servers and bandwidth, P2P networks exploit connectivity between the individual participants of a network. Users (peers) virtually deploy their own network, and this can assist with scalability and roll out in developing countries.

One example of an application that exploits the potential of P2P to establish so-called ad hoc networks includes the One Laptop Per Child initiative which was launched during the Tunis Phase of the World Summit on the Information Society in November 2005. Another example comes from the Swedish company TerraNet, which has the vision of using real-time P2P technology to provide mobile communication without a regular mobile network by modifying users’ handsets to become base station antennae. TerraNet has launched field tests in Tanzania and Ecuador This model of deployment could represent an important advantage of P2P enabled VoIP over mobiles – especially in developing countries, where cost savings are a major drive for deploying NGN.

Thursday, September 20, 2007 10:39:08 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The latest version of Adobe Systems' popular Flash Player technology will support the ITU-T H.264 codec video compression standard now available in Blu-ray systems, HD-DVD players, and TV set-top boxes. See story InfoWorld story here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 1:37:49 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, July 19, 2007

ITU-T’s multimedia Study Group 16 met in Geneva, July, with over twenty standards entering the final stage of ITU-T’s approval process. The ITU secretariat says that the meeting saw record numbers of participants and contributions. Work on the use of tag-based identification (including RFID) for multimedia in particular saw great interest and progress.


Key achievements of the meeting include the setting up of new Questions – ITU-T’s term for work area - to advance work on the third generation multimedia system that will replace the currently used H.323 and SIP multimedia protocols and a second Question on multimedia application platforms and end systems for IPTV. See separate stories – Third gen multimedia system work accelerates and Question on multimedia application platforms and end systems for IPTV.

Thursday, July 19, 2007 3:45:38 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A new Question – ITU-T’s term for work area - to advance work on the third generation multimedia system that will eventually replace the currently used H.323 will start work pending formal approval at the next meeting of Study Group 16.

H.323 is the ITU standard for interoperability in audio, video and data transmissions over IP. It is the most widely used voice over IP (VoIP) communication protocol worldwide. It is estimated that systems using H.323 carry billions of voice minutes each month. The rollout of the next generation network (NGN) will bring with it in a new era of multimedia communications and with it the need for a new protocol.

In the mid-1990s, the ITU began work on H.323, which quickly became the dominant protocol for LAN-based videoconferencing, as well as a protocol used for transporting voice calls around the world. H.323 was developed in parallel with the Internet Engineering Task Force’s (IETF) Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), and was effective in facilitating a migration from circuit-switched networks to packet-switched networks. Sharing similar capabilities and similar design philosophies and being produced in the same time period, H.323 and SIP are classified as second generation systems.

Now, more than 11 years since the introduction of second generation systems, ITU-T SG 16 is again looking toward the future of multimedia systems as the ITU-T also undertakes a study to introduce the next generation network (NGN). The NGN holds the promise of revolutionizing communication as we know it and multimedia will be an important part of any new network technology.

Work on the third generation multimedia system will entail the creation of multiple new ITU-T Recommendations that will specify system architecture, system components, and one or more protocols at the service and application layer. The primary objective is to deliver a new advanced multimedia system that operates on NGN, taking advantage of its features, and will also operate on non-NGN packet-switched networks.

This Question will examine technologies such as various IP technologies, wireless technologies, and distributed computing capabilities in order to realize a system that will enable users to communicate using, as examples, voice and audio, video, electronic whiteboard, application sharing, real-time text, and file transfer across one or more communicating devices (e.g. smart phones, TV set-top boxes, game consoles, handheld game/entertainment machines, digital cameras and Internet “appliances”).

Unlike previous generation systems, this new system will enable independent application developers to create system components that are able to seamlessly interface with the system in order to deliver any one or more of the aforementioned modes of communication. There is a strong desire to move away from the “monolithic applications” that were distinctive of second generation systems, to a system that enables components to “plug in” to the system, either locally or remotely using various wired or wireless technologies, to deliver an enhanced user experience. To meet that objective, this Question will study the various interfaces between these components and the technologies that might be used to tie them together.

The study includes among other subjects:

• Downloadable codecs

• System decomposition

• Discovery of services

• Support for transcoding functionality (e.g. text to speech)

• Dynamic device discovery

• Application plug in

• Consideration of various business models

• Integrated QoS, security and mobility functionality

Experts have set deadlines for the Identification of Requirements - Q1/2008, and basic architecture - Q1/2009.

Thursday, July 19, 2007 3:41:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A new Question – ITU-T’s term for work area – on multimedia application platforms and end systems for IPTV will start work pending formal approval at the next meeting of Study Group 16.

Experts say that with the surge of multimedia services such as video streaming and the desire to offer IPTV services, the market is in serious need of standardized interoperable solutions, especially at the multimedia applications layer. Interoperability will provide benefit for all the players in the value-chain, especially at the multimedia applications layer, and encourage growth of this market.

This Question is intended to produce deliverables related to study IPTV platforms, including, but not restricted to middleware, applications, content formats and their uses, which will facilitate effective and interoperable use of the IPTV systems. The Question will be the recipient of a number of documents from the IPTV Focus Group and it will assimilate these into its work program with the intention of generating a number of standards (ITU-T Recommendations).

Thursday, July 19, 2007 3:35:31 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, July 10, 2007

At the June 2007 meeting of ITU-T SG15, work continued on a draft new Recommendation to develop a single international standard for home networking transceivers using any metallic media in the home – phoneline wiring, data cable (e.g. CAT5), coaxial cable or powerline wiring.

Household connectivity is growing rapidly with more and more electronic devices and networks within the home distributing and using digital information and media. In addition, remote control of lighting, heating, appliance-use and security systems attached to the home are making the "digital home" a reality.

International standards that enable interoperability and security in the field of home networking are seen as key to bringing value and versatility to consumers, making possible the use of diverse products, services and sources, and therefore accelerating market development.

Work in ITU-T is coordinated by the Joint Coordination Activity on Home Networking (JCA-HN). Topics covered across the 13 different Study Groups of ITU-T include digital rights management (DRM), phone-line networking (including co-ax), IPTV, interactive video, set top box architecture and cable modems.

The work on ITU-T Rec - G.hn - next generation home networking transceivers - has now attracted a critical mass of contributors/participants with nine companies submitting 20 contributions on various topics. It is anticipated that G.hn will be completed in 2008.

Also at the June 2007 meeting of ITU-T SG15, it was agreed to start work on a draft new Recommendation G.hnta on home network transport architecture. The Rec will give a generic architecture based on the NGN functional architecture described in Recommendation Y.2012 “Next Generation Networks – Frameworks and functional architecture models” It will describe a platform for the development of future home network standards. The draft Recommendation G.hnta is complementary to draft Recommendation H.ghna currently under development by SG16.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007 3:48:58 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, January 31, 2007
A new Recommendation from SG12 acts as a performance planning tool for videophone applications taking into account the effects of video as well as voice quality. The computational model described is for point-to-point interactive videophone applications including dedicated videophone terminals, desktop or laptop PCs, PDAs and mobile phones over IP networks.

Recommendation G.1070 gives an algorithm that estimates videophone quality in terms of quality of experience/quality of service (QoE/QoS). The model is designed to be used by QoE/QoS planners to help ensure end-to-end user satisfaction and to avoid over-engineering at the application, terminal, and network layers.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 4:35:11 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, January 23, 2007

At Study Group 9’s last meeting: Tokyo, 2-6 October, 2006, Mayumi Matsumoto, Rapporteur for Q.5/9 made a short video giving an excellent introduction to the Study Group’s work.

The movie contains footage of a demonstration of technologies for emerging broadband services in the home including interviews with some of the exhibitors.

It’s a unique insight into a Study Group meeting and the events surrounding it. Watch it here.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007 4:53:31 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, December 07, 2006
The November meeting of Study Group 16 saw a significant reshaping of the group’s media coding work according to experts.

The wording of the title of the Question – ITU-T’s term for work area – has changed from Video to Visual Coding. This is to incorporate work in the areas of still image, graphics, computer displays
and medical imaging as well as the more traditional video sequences.

The Question is home to video coding spec H.264 and an amendment to that Recommendation was made to give new profiles supporting H.264’s use in high-end studio applications that use the 4:4:4 color sampling system.

From the official wording of Question 6/16: “This Question will focus on the maintenance and extension of existing video and still-image coding Recommendations, and laying the ground for new Recommendations using advanced techniques to significantly improve the trade-offs between bit rate, quality, delay, and algorithm complexity. Video, still-image, and other visual coding standards will be developed with sufficient flexibility to accommodate a diverse number of transport types (Internet, LAN, Mobile, ISDN, GSTN, H.222.0, NGN, etc.).”

Thursday, December 07, 2006 9:42:32 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Study Group 16 will start work in a new area, generic sound activity detection (GSAD).

Voice activity detection (VAD) is widely used in telecommunications networks as a means of differentiating between wanted and unwanted in-band audio signals, for example to obtain trunking efficiency in circuit multiplication equipment; to ensure correct operation of echo control and other signal enhancement devices etc.

The proposal for generic sound activity detection (GSAD) is motivated by two problems.

1.         With rapid changes in the telecommunication network environment, more and more multimedia services are being provided. Although the network is evolving from a voice to a multimedia network, most VAD algorithms are still mainly designed to handle voice signals and can not work properly in the presence of rich audio signals, which include voice, music, background environmental noise, information tones etc.

2.         Historically, VAD algorithms have been developed separately for individual network elements and applications, and there are currently numerous VAD algorithms. However, they are based on different principles, which make it difficult to provide common performance enhancements across all VADs.

Therefore it is seen as beneficial to develop a generic sound (rather than voice) activity detector, which can be applied across a range of applications. The benefits from a standardised GSAD are predicted to be:

·           Enhanced performance to deal with new types of in-band audio signals

·           Reduced development time and cost for new equipment requiring sound activity detection, eg codecs, circuit multiplication equipment, echo control, signal enhancement devices, VoIP gateways, terminal adapters etc.

·         Opportunity for use in existing speech and audio coders which do not include VAD.

Thursday, December 07, 2006 9:40:44 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, November 07, 2006

John MacDonald, a member of the ITU team that created the new VDSL 2 standard, will take part in an upcoming Webinar on this topic, Tuesday, November 21. The Webinar, the second on the topic that ITU has contributed to, will outline what VDSL2 is, which are its competitive differentiators and benefits, and how it allows service providers to compete with cable and satellite operators - by enabling the delivery of enhanced voice, video and data services over a standard copper telephone cable.

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) is a product of ITU-T, ITU’s standardization arm, and is the world's most widely deployed broadband access technology. It has enhanced users' experience of the Internet, provided access to digitized content, and fuelled the delivery of streaming video and the development of online gaming by offering downstream data rates of up to 8 Mbit/s. Today, service providers must ensure their DSL offerings can compete against other market options from cable operators. One way to do so, is by offering services over VDSL2 (ITU-T Recommendation G.993.2) - very high-speed DSL - a new version of DSL, which gives service providers the ability to deliver even higher bandwidth and more enhanced services to consumer and business customers.

Delivering up to 100 Mbit/s both up and downstream, a tenfold increase over ADSL (Asymmetric DSL) VDSL2 provides for so-called fiber-extension, bringing fiber-like bandwidth to premises not directly connected to the fiber optic segment of a telecom company’s network. By deploying VDSL2 operators expect to be able to offer services such as high-definition TV (HDTV), video-on-demand, videoconferencing, high-speed Internet access, and advanced voice services. Importantly VDSL 2 offers carriers a solution that is interoperable with the DSL equipment many already have in place. In addition, VDSL 2 will work with both legacy ATM networks and next generation IP-based networks.

Register to take part in this online event here

 

Tuesday, November 07, 2006 9:16:51 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, October 27, 2006
With the second meeting of the IPTV Focus Group (FG IPTV) seeing a record number of participants and contributions, experts have declared satisfaction that work towards a set of standards for IPTV is well on track.

A recent report from industry analyst Gartner says that the number of households around the world subscribing to IPTV services offered by telecom carriers will reach 48.8 million in 2010. Buoyed by new service launches, IPTV subscribers will more than double in 2007 from an expected 6.4 million in 2006 to 13.3 million according to Gartner.

Experts agree that it is imperative that standards needs are met if these impressive figures are to be achieved.

A key achievement at the FG IPTV meeting in Korea was progress towards an standardized IPTV architecture: The group agreed that IPTV architecture shall allow for both NGN and non-NGN approaches to IPTV, and within the NGN-approach, include both IMS and non-IMS based approaches.

Ghassem Koleyni, chair of the group: “I am particularly happy that we have achieved so much progress in Working Group 1 (service requirements and architecture). The level of participation in this group is growing and progress is overall good. But requirements and architecture are of such fundamental importance that getting a fix on these points, at this stage, is very satisfying. In order to gain momentum here we will convene an electronic meeting looking specifically at requirements and architecture, 18-21 December.”

The Korea meeting agreed on the following definition of IPTV: “IPTV is defined as multimedia services such as television/video/ audio/text/graphics/data delivered over IP based networks managed to provide the required level of QoS/QoE, security, interactivity and reliability.”

The next face-to-face meeting of the FG IPTV is scheduled for 22-26 January 2007 at the Microsoft facilities , Mountain View, California, USA (Silicon Valley) at the kind invitation of Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS).

The FG IPTV meeting was preceded by an ITU-T workshop. The event attended by over 400 and held in Seoul provided a view and examination of IPTV standardization, political and regulatory aspects, business models and various case studies as well as technical developments and service provider’s operational aspects. A roundtable discussion at the event concluded that global standardisation and interoperability are key for further development of IPTV worldwide. Other issues that might be further discussed at an international level, according to the roundtable’s twenty participants, include digital rights management (DRM).

 

Friday, October 27, 2006 8:30:34 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, October 02, 2006

Over seven hundred people voted for the most influential standards work from ITU-T in a recent poll to celebrate 50 years of CCITT/ITU-T.

The work area receiving the most votes was video coding. The task of video coding is to establish efficient formats for storing and transmitting video data. The work of ITU–T in this field was pioneered in joint projects with the International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC).

Gary Sullivan Rapporteur of the group that has led video coding work: “It is a great honor to see our video coding work so highly appreciated. Much of the credit should go to my predecessors in leading the ITU-T video coding work, Sakae Okubo, Richard Schaphorst, and Karel Rijkse, and also to my Associate Rapporteur Thomas Wiegand, as well as to all our contributors and our ISO/IEC collaborators. One key technical contributor I would cite in particular is Gisle Bjøntegaard.

Besides the two video standards that were explicitly mentioned in the poll question (H.262/MPEG2-Video and H.264/AVC), there were several others of substantial importance in the standardization of that field. Specifically, that includes H.120, H.261, and H.263.

I think perhaps our edge over SS7 and other such telephony network standards in the voting was really just a matter of our work being more familiar to most people and perhaps fresher in people's minds. The work of the ITU has been at the heart of developing a reliable world-wide telephony network, and that has been hugely important to us all.”

Signalling System number 7 (SS7) received the second highest number of votes. SS7 is a common channel signalling system that separates network resource control from the resources being controlled. This fundamental shift enabled the implementation of highly efficient centralized databases for call control, especially valuable for services that may be accessed from any subscriber line (Intelligent Networks, 800/Freephone, credit card, VPN, etc.), and an integral capability on which today’s ubiquitous mobile phone systems depend. Among other service supporting capabilities, it enables monitoring the status of a line to see if it is busy or idle, alerts that indicate the arrival of a call, and the addressing system that routes calls.

John Visser, Chairman of ITU-T Study Group 19: "SS7 is felt by many to be a cornerstone technology of modern telecommunications.” Visser describes the group which developed the SS7 Recommendations and who were recognized by their peers as ‘Knights of SS7’, as “…a camaraderie… who proudly display the certificates awarded to them as part of this recognition of their efforts.”

Voting results can be seen here.

 

Monday, October 02, 2006 9:52:49 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A new standard that speeds up video calls on 3G devices has been published by ITU-T.

The new standard, Annex K of Recommendation H.324, also known as media oriented negotiation acceleration (MONA) addresses the problem of long set up times for video calls that many perceive as stalling consumer acceptance. H.324 is used in 3G networks to exchange real-time and bi-directional video traffic

Without the new technique a typical video session required each end to send up to ten messages to the other terminal, each time waiting for a message to be received and acknowledged before sending the next one. And, if a message was not received, the sending device had to wait and finally time out before retransmitting. This could introduce delays of up to eight seconds according to experts.

MONA follows in the footsteps of another ITU-T standard – reported here – WNSRP (described in Annex A/H.324), which was a first step towards addressing the problem. WNSRP cut delays down to three seconds, while the techniques deployed in MONA will reduce that to one second or less.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 9:43:30 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, July 19, 2006

ITU-T’s work on IPTV took a significant step forward following a meeting Geneva, July 10-14.

IPTV is being explored by media companies and service providers around the world as a way to add value to their existing offerings, and globally accepted standards are seen as essential in order that – for example – a broadcaster in one part of the world can easily distribute content in another.

The meeting of the IPTV Focus Group (FG IPTV) attracted over 150 delegates from the world’s key ICT companies, over 100 input documents were considered, and the first drafts of various output documents agreed. All documents can be viewed on the group’s webpage.

A key output document drafted at the meeting shows the requirements for standardization in IPTV. Establishing this list is an essential part of the standards making process. Also dealt with by the group, and equally as important is outlining what standards already exist.

The meeting approved the establishment of six working groups:

  • Architecture and Requirements
  • QoS and Performance Aspects
  • Service Security and Contents Protection
  • IPTV Network Control
  • End Systems and Interoperability Aspects
  • Middleware, Application and Content Platforms
The next FG IPTV meeting will take place in Busan, Korea, 16-20 October, 2006.

 

Wednesday, July 19, 2006 10:24:15 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, June 05, 2006

As part of celebrations for the 50th anniversary of ITU-T, you are invited to vote for the most influential standards work from ITU-T.

ITU work is behind many of the worlds most prevalent information and communications technologies. Choose here from our shortlist which you think has best shaped the ICT world of today, or feel free to suggest your own idea.

 

 

Monday, June 05, 2006 8:05:08 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ITU-T together with the Independent Joint Photographic Expert Group (IJG) is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the formation of the CCITT/ITU-T and ISO Joint Photographic Expert Group (JPEG) with the release of an alpha version of software for a new more efficient compression scheme. The new ITU extension to JPEG known as ITU-T Recommendation T.851 means that compression is increased such that images will take-up less space on people’s hard drives or digital cameras.

The program available here allows users to input image files for compression at a more efficient rate than that currently offered. The group responsible for producing the open source software is inviting people to test and contribute to the development of the project.

Recently, and capitalizing on the ‘toolbox’ concept of the original JPEG design, ITU-T approved ITU-T Rec. T.851, a royalty-free extension that adds to T.81, more commonly known as JPEG, an alternative compression method using so-called Q15 arithmetic coding. Q15 provides not only higher compression ratios for stored and transmitted images, but - compared to the original arithmetic coding in JPEG - also lower latency for compressing and displaying images. T.851 also extends the color precision of JPEG to maximum 16 bits per color component, which is seen as essential in applications such as medical imaging, professional photography and high quality printing.

Founded in 1986 by its parent bodies, the then ITU CCITT Study Group VIII and the ISO/TC97/SC2/WG8 group, JPEG continues today under the auspices of ISO/IEC JTC1 SC29/WG1 and ITU-T Study Group 16. The most famous product of JPEG was ITU-T Recommendation T.81 | ISO/IEC 10918-1, which specifies a process for digital compression and coding of continuous-tone still images, and is more commonly known by the name of the group, JPEG. This is the most used format for storing and transmitting photographs on the Internet, in digital photography and in many other image compression applications, and it was approved in 1992 first by ITU-T (then CCITT) and later by ISO/IEC.

Work on the new compression algorithm was started in 2004 by ITU-T Study Group 16. The aim was to allow users to take advantage of recent technological advances, with the addition to the JPEG suite of an alternative, royalty free coder that would allow even better image compression efficiency and lower latency. The successful completion of this first phase of the work resulted in the publication of the specification ITU-T Rec. T.851 after approval in September 2005. Experts from SG 16 say to stay tuned for further developments.

 

Monday, June 05, 2006 8:03:34 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, May 09, 2006

SG16 completed work on a new scalable voice codec - G729.1 - that will significantly improve voice quality in VoIP calls by offering wideband quality. Wideband telephony gives more natural sounding voice and greatly improves intelligibility and listening comfort.

G.729.1 extends the ITU-T G.729 speech coding standard widely used in VoIP systems and is fully interoperable with it. It will allow smooth transition from narrow band (300-3400 Hz) "PSTN" quality telephony to high quality wideband (50-7000Hz) telephony over IP and efficient deployment in existing infrastructures.

G.729.1 can operate at 12 bit rates from 32 kbit/s down to 8 kbit/s with wideband quality above 14kbit/s to dynamically provide the optimum voice quality according to service and network constraints: The bit rate can be adjusted "on-the-fly" during a call by simple truncation of the "embedded" bitstream at any point of the communication chain such as gateways or other devices combining multiple data streams. This highly flexible bit rate adaptation will avoid network congestion and the dropping of packets that severely impair the overall quality.

 

Tuesday, May 09, 2006 2:26:58 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, May 04, 2006

The first meeting of the Focus Group on IPTV (FG IPTV) will take place 10-14 July in Geneva.

The official announcement is here, and a new webpage has gone live detailing how to participate, significant dates and news among other details.

FG IPTV will coordinate and promote the development of global IPTV standards taking into account the existing work of the ITU study groups as well as Standards Developing Organizations, Fora and Consortia. It is open to any individual from a country which is a member of ITU who wishes to contribute to the work.

 

Thursday, May 04, 2006 9:50:19 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, May 01, 2006

A new standard extending support of a key communications tool for the deaf and hard of hearing to IP-based networks was consented at a recent meeting of ITU-T’s Study Group 16. The continued support of textphones (TTYs) as operators increasingly shift to IP is important for the many thousands of users of these systems.

The announcement marks a key milestone in the development of what ITU terms Total Conversation, that is the convergence of voice, video and text telephony.

The new standard known as ITU-T Recommendation V.151 relates to text over IP (ToIP). ToIP is the transport of real-time text over IP networks. It differs from instant messaging in that ToIP systems transmit bi-directionally, one character at a time. This gives the user the feel of real-time communication, just like voice or video systems that transport streaming media over IP.

ToIP services are available using a legacy textphone (TTY) which has long been the preferred tool of the deaf and hard of hearing, an enabled IP phone or a PC-based client.

V.151 has an important role to play in the protection of text quality when transported through IP networks, also offering the potential to enable communication between earlier incompatible textphones from different regions.

Monday, May 01, 2006 4:26:33 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, April 27, 2006

Work in the video coding space progressed, following meetings taking place in Geneva in April.

Also, the beginning of the month saw the Japan launch of a new mobile terrestrial digital audio/video broadcasting service using H.264 and called "1seg".  The video compression standard (full name ITU-T Rec. H.264 or MPEG-4 pt.10/ AVC) jointly developed by ITU-T SG16 and the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) is now being deployed in products from companies including Apple, Sony, BT, France Telecom, Intel, Motorola, Nokia, Polycom, Samsung, Tandberg and Toshiba and in services such as over-the-air broadcast television, the new HD DVD and Blu Ray disc formats, and a large number of deployments of direct-broadcast satellite-based television services.

In Geneva, a new Recommendation was consented that will allow the use of a ‘back channel’ to convey the level of loss or corruption in video messages and if necessary apply measures to compensate for that. So, for example, at the content delivery end, an encoder, upon determining that a message is not getting through properly, may decide to reduce the message to its bare essentials resulting in a lower fidelity for the end user. Alternatively, the encoder and decoder can deploy intelligent recovery mechanisms. This will better support Recommendation H.264’s use in environments that may be more susceptible to error, for example in mobile telephony and IP-based video conferencing.

The new Recommendation has been drafted in such a way that it can be applied to existing (e.g. H.262, H.263, H,264) and future video coding standards. 

The work took place during co-located meetings of the Joint Video Team (JVT) and ITU-T Study Group 16, home of media coding work in the ITU. Over 90 documents were considered by the JVT group, which is the ITU-T and ISO/IEC joint project to enhance standard video coding performance, and is home to H.264/AVC.

An amendment to H.264 added support of new extended-gamut colour spaces, which are recently-specified enhanced methods of measuring and representing the brightness and color of the objects in video pictures. Also, in relation to H.264, work continued on developing new profiles supporting H.264’s use in high-end studio applications that use the 4:4:4 color sampling system and on developing scalable video coding (SVC) extensions of the standard as well.


Thursday, April 27, 2006 8:27:12 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Director of ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB), Houlin Zhao, has convened a meeting 4-5 April 2006 in Geneva to explore standardization in Internet Protocol Television (IPTV).

IPTV rollout is expected to grow at a brisk pace in the coming years. 

Many of the world's major telecommunications providers are exploring IPTV as a new service. It is increasingly seen by operators as an important part of a triple play package of voice, video and data services. Standardization is key if service providers are to offer good quality, and provide the value-adds such as video on demand services which will inevitably drive the market. 

Zhao is convinced that standardization in the field is an urgent need. “IPTV is becoming an increasingly important service in the market, and more and more ITU-T Members have said that they are facing challenges from technical as well as regulatory issues,” said Zhao. “We have received a number of proposals to strengthen our work on IPTV standardization in order to meet the needs of market players and users. I encourage ITU members and ITU partners to provide contributions and to participate at the meeting. I am confident that this will be a very productive and successful meeting.”

The meeting will examine; the situation and challenges of IPTV service at the national level; the situation and challenges of IPTV service at the regional/global levels; the actions and development of IPTV-related service by SDOs; technical and regulatory challenges and the ITU’s role and expected actions in IPTV standardization.

More and online registration here.

Thursday, March 02, 2006 11:41:33 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, February 17, 2006
International standards that enable interoperability and security in the field of home networking are seen as key to bringing value and versatility to consumers, making possible the use of diverse products, services and sources, and therefore accelerating market development. This was the key conclusion of a successful World Standards Cooperation (WSC) workshop bringing together some 100 experts from industry, the academic community and standards developing organizations, in Geneva, Switzerland, on 2 and 3 February 2006.

Household connectivity is growing rapidly with more and more electronic devices and networks within the home distributing and using digital information and media. In addition, remote control of lighting, heating, appliance-use and security systems attached to the home are making the "digital home" a reality.

The Geneva event provided an overview of these technologies as well as an examination of standards that address access, services, performance, quality of service (QoS), electromagnetic interference, digital rights management (DRM), security issues and overall networking.

Representatives from more than 15 leading industry groups, such as DNLA, DSL Forum and Zigbee, called for closer cooperation between the WSC partners, standards developing organizations (SDOs) and industry consortia. They also agreed that similar events designed to allow for the open exchange of ideas should be held in the future, in view of improving coordination and avoiding duplication of work.  

ITU-T's Joint Co-ordination Activity on Home Networking JCA-HN was recognized by participants as an important vehicle for coordination. The JCA-HN was set up to harmonize work going on across ITU-T Study Groups and to identify what exactly needs to be standardized in the field aiming to produce a roadmap outlining this activity.

Houlin Zhao, Director, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB), ITU, wrapped up the workshop by reminding delegates of the history of successful cooperation between IEC, ITU and ISO. The three organizations, he said, are committed to promoting and harmonizing the international standardization system, strengthening cooperation among themselves and with all partners concerned. He encouraged the members of the three organizations to support efforts at the international level, as well as the national and company level.  

Opening the two-day event, IEC General Secretary Aharon Amit said that the market, innovation, safety and regulation and competition drive international standards. Chief technical officers, he said, were the best-placed people to decide what is needed and when and this allows the IEC to do its work. In short, Mr. Amit said, "we're seeking guidance from you on what we're doing, what we're doing well, what we're not doing well and what we should be doing."   

In his closing remarks, ISO Secretary-General, Alan Bryden indicated that: "At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, convergence of information and communication technologies and services for the benefit of consumers was highlighted as a key development, as well as a manifestation of the knowledge revolution, at the centre of the 'creative imperative'". He added that "International Standards have a major role to play" and - referring to the work of IEC, ITU and ISO - "we, ourselves need to converge".

The two-day workshop reviewed the current state-of-the-art in home digital technology from a standardization perspective.  Representatives from 14 leading electronics manufacturers, 10 leading systems service providers, academics and standards bodies examined the situation and needs for standards in relation to:

· Ways in which digital services are delivered to the home;

· In-home networking;

· How content is managed;

· How equipment is managed;

· Best practices.

Emphasis was placed on trends concerning broadband technologies, the way to ensuring connectivity and interoperability of devices within home networks and on the development of many new application areas - for example, ways in which recent technology can offer non-intrusive monitoring of those with diagnosed medical conditions, or of the elderly.

The World Standards Cooperation (WSC) aims to reinforce, and promote the voluntary consensus based International Standards system of ISO, IEC and ITU.

 

Friday, February 17, 2006 5:00:12 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, October 31, 2005

A workshop on home networking will move standardization work in the area to a crucial new stage according to participants. The event held by ITU in Geneva 13-14 October followed a similar 2004 ITU-T Study Group 9 Tokyo workshop, and closed with agreement on how to move forward in a number of key areas. Meeting concurrently was the Home Networking-Joint Coordination Activity (HN-JCA), a group of ITU-T experts aiming to coordinate standardization effort on home networking across ITU-T Study Groups.

Home networking is the linking of all types of electronic devices for applications such as entertainment, telecommunication, home automation systems and telemetry (remote control and monitoring systems), see below for the official ITU definition. It has become an increasingly important topic for standardizers, partly because of the disparate nature of the items to be networked and partly because of market pressure. US organization CTAM (Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing), estimates that 40 percent of broadband customers want to share audio over the home network and 36 percent want to share video.

One of the key conclusions of the workshop is that there needs to be better collaboration between the various groups involved in the work. Ralph W. Brown, Chief Technology Officer, CableLabs and presenter at the event: “Through better coordination and closer working relationship, we can avoid the proliferation of incompatible standards.” It is critical for ITU to facilitate working relationships and open the door to referencing the specifications of other organizations from international standards it was agreed. To this end, Reinhard Scholl, Deputy to the Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau gave a presentation highlighting the various ways that ITU can accommodate the work of other bodies. Participants welcomed the degree of flexibility offered by ITU.

One option outlined by Scholl and discussed as a possible next step is the formation of an ITU-T Focus Group to work on some of the technical issues. The Focus Group concept allows urgent standardization needs that are not addressed within existing ITU‑T structure to be addressed quickly and with the minimum of red-tape. Currently a group, the Home Networking-Joint Coordination Activity (HN-JCA), exists to harmonize work going on across ITU-T Study Groups but its mandate does not extend to technical work. More

.

 

Monday, October 31, 2005 9:48:32 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
With the popularity of blogs, podcasting and web-based photo libraries, web content has become something much more accessible to the individual in the last few years. Now video looks set to be the next media to gain popularity with the new generation of home based media moguls.

Work on a new protocol that may spawn a whole new generation of independent broadcasters is underway at ITU. Relayed Multicast Protocol (RMCP) being developed by the ITU’s Study Group 17 uses something like a peer-to-peer model meaning that independent broadcasters no longer have to subscribe to a fat-pipe, instead relying on a collection of ‘peers’ or ‘relay agents’, in other words other people's computers. Peer to peer type traffic is reckoned to make-up as much as 72 per cent of current Internet traffic. And this figure is predicted to rise.

RMCP allows the live broadcast of video or audio piggy-backing off other users (or servers). So in a scenario where 100 people are demanding a live broadcast, instead of serving each one of these clients their own video stream, only one stream has to be provided and each user will be served from another in the network. This has significant implications for instance for businesses broadcasting live events, where a previous scenario demanded 100 users be fed individual feeds, RMCP allows the broadcast of just one.

Juyoung Park the editor of the ITU-T Recommendations says that RMCP allows for the efficient serving of hundreds of thousands of simultaneous connection requests.

Park says that the need for this type of protocol was identified by content providers. Standardization means that a single client can receive content from any number of suppliers.

An alternative solution – IP Multicast – is not applicable in today’s networks according to Park. For a start the success of IP Multicast would mean router upgrades throughout a network, something that many operators would balk at, especially given the unclear benefits of IP Multicast to their revenue streams.

Park says that tests by his organization – ETRI – have shown that speeds of 2 Mbit/s are possible. This reflects standard broadcast rates. However he says that typically users will experience something more like 640 Kbit/s. 

ITU-T has published one Recommendation (ITU-T Rec. X.603) on the topic outlining requirements, framework etc. The next two Recommendations due in 2006 will focus on the technical specifications. One focusing on one broadcaster to many clients, and the other on many broadcasters to many clients.
Monday, October 31, 2005 9:38:33 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ITU is working on technology with the potential to radically transform the large screen entertainment industry. While much of the work on large screen digital imagery (LSDI) is handled in ITU's Radiocommunication sector (ITU-R), a meeting of ITU-T's Study Group 9 has just consented a standard that completes a vital link in the chain meaning that from a film being shot to its display in a cinema-like environment, all processes involved in the making of LSDI movies can be truly digital.

Large screen digital imagery (LSDI) is a family of digital imagery systems that includes very large screen presentation of programmes similar to the non-digital IMAX and OMNIMAX systems. LSDI is described as an optimal approach to the presentation of high-definition television (HDTV) programmes, to a collective audience on cinema-like screens in a cinema-like environment.

The ITU-T Recommendation defines how “super HDTV” images – up to four times the quality of standard HDTV - can be delivered to cinema-like venues, bypassing traditional distribution methods. It defines transport technologies for LSDI with resolutions 3840 x 2160 and 7680 x 4320 pixels.

Currently all movies, even those that are produced digitally, are distributed on film. This method is costly. Electronic distribution via satellite and/or fiber-optics or cable television, will eliminate these costs and also allow a much more efficient distribution channel. In addition it could give cinema owners a much greater level of independence.

Traditional broadcast channels such as terrestrial transmission will not generally be used to deliver LSDI content. But the ability to broadcast in real-time means that live broadcast to LSDI equipped theatres will be possible. This convergence between telecoms and broadcast permits the presentation of new types of content unavailable until recently to cinema audiences.

Sports, concerts, dramas, plays, cultural, educational and industrial events can now be presented to audiences alongside traditional features.

According to the Draft New Report on Large Screen Digital Imagery produced by ITU-R: "In North America, the transition to LSDI is proceeding at a rapid pace and as of now, there are over 9000 LSDI theatre screens in daily operation with more being planned and installed this year... LSDI is a reality in North America." In Asia, China according to the report is taking the lead supported by high-level government commitment, and in Europe there are numerous implementations.
Monday, October 31, 2005 9:24:18 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, October 21, 2005

Apple's new video iPod launched in the first half of October uses the ITU-T H.264 video codec.

Apple’s support for the standard goes back some years. As early as 2002, Tim Schaaff, vice president of the interactive-media group at Apple Computer Inc., speaking at industry event IBC, said H.264 is "no doubt the best codec there is, offering a great coding efficiency."

The video compression standard (full name H.264 or MPEG-4 pt.10/ AVC) jointly developed by ITU-T and the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) is now being deployed in products from companies including Apple, Sony, BT, France Telecom, Intel, Motorola, Nokia, Polycom, Samsung, Tandberg and Toshiba.

H.264/AVC is the first truly scalable video codec, delivering excellent quality across the entire bandwidth spectrum - from high definition television to videoconferencing and 3G mobile multimedia. The dramatically increased compression performance of H.264 will enable existing applications like videoconferencing, streaming video over the Internet, and digital television on satellite and cable to offer better quality video at lower cost. It will also allow new video applications such as high-definition TV (HDTV) broadcasts, high-definition films on DVD, video on mobile phones, and videoconferencing over low bandwidth connections that were previously impractical because of economics or technology.

 

 

Friday, October 21, 2005 3:43:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Home Networking, the linking of all types of electronic devices for applications such as entertainment, telecommunication, home automation systems and telemetry (remote control and monitoring systems), is attracting a great deal of interest. And given the wide range of previously unrelated technologies involved, standards that allow for interoperability are seen as key to the successful marketing of the concept. However, thus far, despite many initiatives, a lack of standardization has stifled the market. And, many believe that for the new technology to take-off, a consolidation of the various standardization efforts is necessary.

This workshop will bring together experts from all over the world who are pushing forward the frontiers of this fast moving field. It will provide an overview of the technology as well as an examination of standards that address access, services, performance, quality of service (QoS), electromagnetic interference and security issues. The workshop will deal with current technology and future trends to provide a framework for moving forward standardization work.

More details.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005 9:27:20 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Recommendation H.460.20 consented at the last Study Group 16 meeting solves the problem of how to provide location information in calls generated to/from H.323 systems. The Recommendation allows these systems – such as VoIP or videoconferencing – to convey information that could be a URL, an e-Mail, a postal code, or a mobile telephone number. This is much more than can be achieved with a traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN) call.

Currently calls generated or terminated in H.323 systems do not carry - end-to-end – details of where that call is coming from. This information is needed by the public switched telephone network (PSTN) for emergency services, more accurate billing and for routing the call. Additionally it is useful, for instance, in applications such as telemarketing where calls can be routed according to their origin. 

Technically H.460.20 gives H.323 the ability to convey the location number present in ISUP – the system that determines the set-up, co-ordination and taking down of calls. Without this ability location information is lost at the interworking edge between the IP network and the PSTN. An additional benefit is that it simplifies interworking with the session initiation protocol (SIP).

Wednesday, August 24, 2005 8:36:57 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ITU-T has agreed to a revision of a Recommendation that experts say is an important step towards solving the problem of lengthy call setups in 3G video telephony. Seen as a key issue to address, the resolution of this issue may help accelerate the market for 3G. 

According to SG 16 sources the standard has been successfully tested in products and many mobile operators and handset manufacturers have started implementation.

The revised ITU-T Recommendation H.324 speeds the initiation of 3G video sessions through the streamlining of the call set-up signalling that is necessary to establish the connection between two handsets and between a handset and a media server.

Previously setting up a typical video session required each end to send up to ten messages to the other terminal, each time waiting for a message to be received and acknowledged before sending the next one. And, if a message was not received, the sending device had to wait and finally time out before retransmitting. The delay introduced in this process led to long video call set-up times.

The new method eliminates the message queuing and time out issues. Now, all signalling is sent as a single batch to be processed by the receiving device. Missed messages, due for example to network errors, are immediately detected by the receiving device and retransmission requests are spontaneously generated. This leads to much quicker call setup times, bringing video connectivity close to the same level of service as traditional telephony.

Key for many operators is that implementation will not require manufacturers to recall phones, also meaning that services may work on existing devices. Other advantages of the new approach include the fact that it is protocol and network independent, enabling connectivity with any other device, even if it is IP-based (e.g. IP video streaming server or a PC-based video terminal) and meaning that it does not interact with underlying network protocols or codecs, enabling devices using the standard to operate even when roaming in other mobile networks.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005 8:35:06 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A suite of ten new standards that provide security for IP media communications such as VoIP or videoconferencing got an update at the last meeting of ITU-T’s Study Group 16

The security framework outlined in the H.235 series of ITU-T Recommendations provides the protocols necessary for these media to be authorised and routed. Equipment using these standards can deliver connectivity without compromising security. 

With the help of the Recommendations, users communicating through IP media are authenticated and authorized so that their communications are protected against various security threats. Real-time multimedia encryption adds a further layer of security, protecting against call interception. The security countermeasures are designed to thwart service fraud, avoid service misuse and detect malicious message tampering. H.235 also gives the ability to provide a greater level of security using public key infrastructure (PKI) certificates. 

Additionally, two new security profiles were added to provide [H.235.8] key exchange using the secure real-time transport protocol (SRTP) in H.323 networks and [H.235.9] to allow discovery of security gateways in the signalling path between communicating H.323 entities, in order to preserve signalling integrity and privacy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005 8:33:13 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, August 22, 2005

ITU-T hosted the 36th JPEG Meeting, Geneva July 18-22. The Joint Picture Experts Group (JPEG), formed many years ago by both ITU-T Study Group 16 and ISO/IEC JTC1 SG 29, is best known for its JPEG and JPEG-2000 image compression standards. 

In ITU-T, Study Group 16 is home to all media coding work, such as the H-Series of Recommendations, and includes work done together with ISO/IEC's JPEG, and JPEG-2000 groups in image compression, as well as work done with MPEG in developing video compression standards such as H.264. ISO/IEC JTC1 SG 29 is the focal point in ISO/IEC JTC1 for image, video and audio compression standards.

The meeting surveyed the progress of technologies broached in the previous JPEG meeting, held in Lisbon in March 2005, including image security in JPEG-2000 which is being addressed by JPEG’s JPSEC ad hoc group. The group is developing a standard that will enable protected images to retain JPEG-2000 system features, such as scalability. This new feature within JPEG images will allow international distribution of digital images containing encrypted content, while still retaining the ability to adaptively deliver content for a wide variety of devices with varying display capabilities.

The meeting also followed up on JPEG’s Digital Cinema ad hoc group and its advances in developing profiles for JPEG-2000 digital cinema applications. The Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) organization has adopted JPEG-2000 for future distribution of digital movies to theatres. JPEG is working closely with the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) to standardize aspects of this future architecture. 

The Video and Image Coding and Applications (VICA) workshop, 22-23 July 2005, which followed the ITU-T-hosted JPEG meeting, aimed to build upon the presence of JPEG and ITU-T SG 16 experts (who met July 26 - August 5 this year). The workshop reviewed existing video and image compression standards, their current applications, and future directions in the field. See related news for more details on the workshop. 

Monday, August 22, 2005 8:05:32 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, July 21, 2005

Workshop on Video and Image Coding and Applications (VICA)
Geneva, 22 - 23 July 2005

In between the meetings of two lead technical groups working on image and video compression, ISO/IEC's JPEG and ITU-T's Study Group 16, ITU will host a workshop on Video and Image Coding and Applications (VICA) at the ITU headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland, 22 to 23 July 2005. Key experts will join users to review the development, assessment and application of video and image coding and to discuss and start work on an action plan and a roadmap for VICA standardization.

Advance Programme

Thursday, July 21, 2005 1:52:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, July 08, 2005

The advisory panel for standards cooperation on telecommunications related to motor vehicles (APSC TELEMOV) met recently in Geneva.

The meeting followed up on some of the recommendations of the recent ITU-T workshop The Fully Networked Car - a Workshop on ICT in Motor Vehicles. Specifically this involved the developing of an action plan and a number of agreements for participation in other events as well as increased cooperation with other players in the field.

According to Paul Najarian Director of Telecommunication and Standards, for the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), the advisory panel has already seen much success in terms of enhancing cooperation between ITU, ISO, ETSI, and others.

Importantly, Najarian said the group is already witnessing close cooperation between ITU-T Study Group 12 and ISO/TC22 on vehicles in the area of HMI (human machine interface). This cooperation will lead to the submission of a study Question to SG12. Another study Question on eCall (emergency call notification) will be submitted to an ITU-T study group, although it has not been decided which one. 

Given the similarities between vehicular networks and home networks, the group has agreed to participate and provide speakers for the October 2005 workshop Opportunities and Challenges in Home Networking. It also expects to participate and provide speakers for the 2006 workshop on RFID. Additionally an advisory group representative will speak on ITS and multimedia at the upcoming ITU-T Study Group 16 meeting.

Participants have also agreed to cooperate with the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in order to develop a world report on ITS Standards.

 

 

Friday, July 08, 2005 2:06:03 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, June 06, 2005
ITU-T's Study Group 16 has made a public call for proposals on requirements for the multimedia applications that will run over next generation networks (NGN). The advent of the NGN creates an opportunity for a new - third - generation of multimedia telecommunication systems offering more integrated features, greater extensibility, and more flexible growth paths for the future.

Multimedia systems are expected to form the bulk of NGN services and so early attempts at defining them are crucial. SG16 will combine the results of the call with its experience gained in defining standards for the so-called first and second generation multimedia terminals and systems.

Once it has established what sort of services people think will emerge, SG16 can start the work on the standards to support them. The group's management team said that it is keen to get contributors to think 'out-of-the-box' beyond the usual and the obvious.

The Call for Proposals on Requirements for the third generation of ITU-T Multimedia Systems and Terminals can be found here.

Monday, June 06, 2005 8:59:56 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, May 27, 2005

ITU-T has completed the specifications necessary for telecoms operators around the world to offer a ‘super’ triple play of video, Internet and voice services.

The ITU-T Recommendation for very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line 2 (VDSL2) will allow operators worldwide to compete with cable and satellite operators by offering services such as high definition TV (HDTV), video-on-demand, videoconferencing, high speed Internet access and advanced voice services including VoIP, over a standard copper telephone cable.

VDSL2 will offer consumers up to 100 Mbps up and downstream, a massive ten-fold increase over the more common ADSL. Essentially it allows so-called ‘fibre-extension’ bringing fibre like bandwidth to premises not directly connected to the fibre-optic segment of a telecoms company’s network.

As well as addressing increasing consumer demands, VDSL2 offers telecom carriers a solution that promises to be interoperable with the ADSL kit that many operators already have in place. This interoperability will make the migration of customers to VDSL2 much simpler. Another important feature of VDSL2 is that it will work in both legacy ATM networks and next generation IP based networks.

VDSL2 is seen by many operators as an ideal accompaniment to a fibre to the premises (FTTP) rollout, where for instance fibre is supplied direct to an apartment block and from there copper cable is used to supply residents with high-speed VDSL2.

Yoichi Maeda, chairman of the Study Group responsible for the work said: “We have leveraged the strengths of ADSL, ADSL2+, and VDSL to achieve the very high performance levels that you will see with VDSL2. It looks set to become an extremely important feature of the telecommunications landscape and is a landmark achievement for our members, many of whom were relying on this Recommendation in order to take their businesses to the next level.”

The publication of standardized specifications in an ITU-T Recommendation (G.993.2) means that operators can avoid being locked into a single vendor. As well as the economic advantages that this may bring it also means that operators can select the best solutions according to their needs.
Friday, May 27, 2005 12:49:03 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, May 17, 2005

In between the meetings of two lead technical groups working on image and video compression, ISO/IEC's JPEG and ITU-T's Study Group 16, ITU will host a workshop on Video and Image Coding and Applications (VICA) at ITU headquarters, Geneva, 22 to 23 July. 
Key experts will join users to review the development, assessment and application of video and image coding and to discuss and start work on an action plan and a roadmap for VICA standardization.

Presentations will instigate discussion on how standards work in the field, including how next generation networks (NGN) can support the development of so-called ubiquitous services - any device, anytime, anywhere. Current work on home network environments will also be taken into account.

Also at the event there will be an interoperability demonstration showing various products using related standards.

All interested parties are free to attend.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 11:03:09 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, May 13, 2005

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), ITU-T will lend its support to a session on the advances and applications in H.264/AVC Video Coding. The session will take place during the SPIE meeting in San Diego, USA, (31 July - 4 August 2005).

H.264/AVC is the leading video codec developed jointly by the Joint Video Team of ITU-T Q.6/SG16 VCEG and ISO/IEC MPEG. It incorporates a dramatically increased compression performance that will enable existing applications like videoconferencing, streaming video over the Internet, and digital television on satellite and cable to offer better quality video at lower cost. It will also allow new video applications such as High-Definition TV on DVD, video on mobile phones, and videoconferencing over low bandwidth connections.

Friday, May 13, 2005 3:57:07 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |