NTT DoCoMo to put next-gen video compression on smartphones

The first smartphones with HEVC should arrive this year

Japanese telecom operator NTT DoCoMo has licensed a next-generation video compression technology called HEVC for use in future smartphones, where it could improve image quality and lessen network load.

DoCoMo will begin licensing the technology in March, and the first smartphones with HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding, also known as H.265) should arrive this year, a spokesman for the operator said.

The compression technology benefits both users and operators. Users will gain smoother playback on smartphones without delays or interruptions, while operators will see a lighter load from video traffic on their networks.

Compared to the existing MPEG-4 AVC, videos can be downloaded twice as fast because HEVC halves the needed bandwidth while maintaining the same image quality. Higher-quality video can also be streamed without using more bandwidth, according to DoCoMo. And for playback on PCs, HEVC can handle 4K UltraHD video content, which offers four times the resolution of current Full HD content, DoCoMo said.

DoCoMo's HEVC decoding software will be demonstrated at NTT R&D Forum in Tokyo on Feb. 14 and Feb. 15, and at Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona, which starts on Feb. 25. At Mobile World Congress, the operator will also show its machine-to-machine platform and mobile wallets based on NFC, it said.

The number of products that support HEVC for encoding as well as decoding are slowly growing. At International CES in January, Samsung Electronics announced TVs that will integrate the compression technology and a number of chip makers also demonstrated products. For example, Broadcom showed the BCM7445, which will be used in home equipment to display UltraHD TV or four full-HD streams at the same time.

The HEVC standard was jointly finalized by the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) as ISO/IEC 23008-2 and the ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) as H.265 on Jan. 25.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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