03032016_IETF Work Group Seeks to Improve User Experience and Interoperability in Streaming Video by Establishing High-Quality Codec Standard

Interoperability issues are a common annoyance for individuals attempting to stream video on the web. Users that may login to Netflix, Hulu or Amazon to watch a movie on the web may be stopped with a warning that they don’t have the proper software to proceed. Users are often forced to download proprietary plug-ins to view movies that are requested, and streaming services may not operate equally well on different browsers or platforms.

NETVC, a working group associated with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), is looking to change all that by designing a standardized, high-quality, royalty-free video codec that can be used on multiple platforms including, but not limited to, open-source software. This is not the IETF’s first run at establishing a standardized media codec. In 2012, the Opus audio codec was published by an IETF working group and it has seen widespread adoption across the web. NETVC believes that it can do for video what Opus did for audio.

Two tech industry giants, Cisco and Mozilla, have contributed from their codec codebases to aid NETVC in their effort to craft a high-quality standardized video codec. The fact that these companies have “opened” these portions of their codebases for the NETVC project means that any interested party can review the code, modify it, test it, and contribute to the end result.

While there is still significant work to be done in the project, NETVC’s productivity has been greatly boosted by leveraging the codebases of Cisco and Mozilla (code named “Thor” and “Daala,” respectively) against each other and recording which seems to function better under different conditions. While the project is still in its early stages, NETVC has reported promising results from their “pair and compare” approach to research.

If development of the codec continues at such a promising pace, NETVC could serve as a splendid case study for champions for open standards. To learn more about OpenStandards, please check out the OpenStand principles.