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Cisco’s OpenH264 Now Part of Firefox

Voice and video communications over IP have become ubiquitous over the last decade, pervasive across desktop apps, mobile apps, IP phones, video conferencing endpoints, and more.  One big barrier remains: users can’t collaborate directly from their web browser without downloading cumbersome plugins for different applications.  WebRTC – a set of extensions to HTML5 – can change that and enable collaboration from any browser. However, one of the major stumbling blocks in adoption of this technology is a common codec for real-time video.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) have been working jointly to standardize on the right video codec for WebRTC. Cisco and many others have been strong proponents of the H.264 industry standard codec. In support of this, almost a year ago Cisco announced that we would be open sourcing our H.264 codec and providing the source code, as well as a binary module that can be downloaded for free from the Internet. Perhaps most importantly, we announced that we would not pass on our MPEG-LA licensing costs for this binary module, making it effectively free for applications to download the module and communicate with the millions of other H.264 devices. At that time, Mozilla announced its plans to add H.264 support to Firefox using OpenH264.

Since then, we’ve made enormous progress in delivering on that promise. We open sourced the code, set up a community and website to maintain it, delivered improvements and fixes, published the binary module, and have made it available to all. This code has attracted a community of developers that helped improve Read More »

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The Price of Being First

New technology is always exciting. There are always groups within the organization that have seen some product demo at a convention or user group and need that new functionality right now!

But sometimes the infrastructure is not there to support it. Or it’s the first time this type of technology has been introduced into your organization. Both of these pose their own distinct issues and challenges.

Some initial questions we ask ourselves are the following:

•    Does our current infrastructure support the requests?
•    Do we need to procure hardware or do code upgrades?
•    Will this pass a security sniff?
•    Will this support the entire organization or is this a one off that will sporadically be used?
•    Who is the first department willing to pilot this?

EricBlog51

Read More »

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Open UX Foundation Blog Setting the Foundation for HTML5

For pay-TV service providers, delivering multi-screen TV services is a must. Same goes for embedding web and social applications. But with the proliferation of video-enabled devices such as set top boxes (STB) and computer electronics (CE) devices, software platforms become more fragmented. And that makes it more of a challenge to deliver and maintain a high quality video service across the device ecosystem. Many rightly consider HTML5 to be the Internet technology for delivering commercial TV to video enabled devices. Indeed many devices already support HTML5. And all new devices will have native HTML5 browsers built-in. Furthermore, many open source frameworks also make it easier to create new services while social sites provide SDKs to help integrate existing services.

But that’s not enough.

The fact is that many HTML5 implementations simply don’t match the capabilities required by today’s commercial TV applications. Nor do they achieve the performance levels to which users are accustomed. Take, for example, the 3D effects and animations that are part and parcel of an award-winning EPG design such as Videoscape Snowflake. Or accessibility to metadata, authorizations and user preferences. Not to mention app life cycle management. Essentially, there is a need for more than an HTML5 standard browser.

So what can be done? Well at Cisco, we have an answer. Read More »

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Summary: No consensus at IETF, but it’s not over yet

November 19, 2013 at 6:57 am PST

Recently Cisco made significant efforts around open sourcing our H.264 implementation, including covering the MPEG-LA licensing costs for distribution and working with Mozilla to add support for H.264. However, in this attempt to unstick the logjam that has occurred in the standards bodies, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) failed to reach consensus on the selection of a common video codec.

Cisco’s Jonathan Rosenberg explored this topic more in a recent Collaboration blog post. Read on to find out how we’re planning to move forward and why this conversation is definitely not over!

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No Consensus at IETF, But It’s Not Over Yet

Cisco recently announced that we would open source our H.264 implementation under favorable open source terms, and more importantly, provide a binary distribution of that implementation that could be downloaded and integrated into browsers and other applications. We said we’d cover the MPEG-LA licensing costs for this distribution as well. Mozilla responded by saying that, based on this, they would add H.264 to Firefox, using our technology.

Part of our motivation for making this announcement was to unstick the logjam that has occurred in the standards bodies. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is defining the standards for how real-time voice and video will work natively in the browser. Selection of a common video codec is part of that process. The group has been highly divided on this topic, with two camps – one (including Cisco), in favor of industry standard H.264, and others in favor of Google’s VP8 technology.

We hoped that our announcement, and Mozilla’s agreement to support H.264 as a common codec, would provide enough impetus to sway the standards to a concrete decision so that the industry could move forward. Alas, that was not the case. Despite what we felt was a fairly objective analysis on the reasons why H.264 was a better choice for the overall success of real-time communications on the web (click here for a recording), the IETF failed to reach consensus.

Obviously, we’re very disappointed by this. Read More »

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