Polycom Delivers H.264 SVC Support

UC

Last week Polycom made several strategic announcements, including a deepening partnership with Microsoft, expansion of its relationship with Broadsoft to deliver cloud-based solutions, and video conferencing support for Samsung tablets. Perhaps most interesting in these announcements was Polycom’s stated plans to exploit H.264 Scalable Video Coding (SVC) to deliver HD quality video across lossy networks such as mobile wireless services and the Internet.

I’ve been bullish on SVC since seeing a demonstration from Layered Media several years ago that showed high quality video conferencing even with 30% packet loss. Layered Media became Vidyo, a video conferencing vendor that has bet the house on SVC and its ability to support HD over any underlying network. Other than Vidyo (and those who license its technology), the only other vendor to embrace SVC thus far was Radvision. Meanwhile, others in the video conferencing market rely on alternative or proprietary approaches for minimizing bandwidth or handling error correction.

Polycom’s embrace of SVC signals growing market momentum for SVC as a replacement to the widely deployed H.264 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) codec standard. But, buyers need to be aware of the fact that current ITRU SVC standards only define coding and decoding, thus interoperable SVC-based solutions aren’t yet available (the recently formed UC Interoperability Forum – UCIF – is working on SVC interoperability within its H.264 Profile Task Group).

Finally, interoperability between H.264 SVC and non-SVC end-points or systems requires transcoding, meaning non-SVC end-points don’t enjoy the benefits of SVC over lossy networks.

Video conferencing buyers should carefully evaluate SVC-based solutions for performance, price, interoperability, flexibility and the ability to reduce bandwidth investments for supporting high-definition conferencing.

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