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China Netcom chooses AVS for IPTV

Posted: 09 Nov 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:China Netcom? IPTV? Audio Video Coding Standard? AVS? H.264?

China Netcom, one of China's major wireline telecom companies, plans to fully implement a domestically developed codec in its fledgling IPTV network. The use of the codec, known as Audio Video Coding Standard (AVS), is a big break for its developers, which have had a hard time selling it to the industry.

China is running IPTV trial in five cities, one of which uses AVS while the other four use the more popular H.264. Netcom, which is controlled by the government, said it will convert from H.264 to AVS as soon as the codec finishes testing. This month the government will start another round of AVS tests that should wrap up in January.

As part of the transition, Netcom said it will favor equipment providers that are willing to offer free upgrades of its system to AVS in exchange for the chance of long-term contracts. "That means Netcom will convert the risk to the equipment providers in the early stage," said Gao Wen, secretary general of the AVS working group.

In addition the company is planning to use AVS based IPTV in 20 cities by 2007, and hopes for six million AVS-based IPTV users in five to seven years, or 40 percent of its current broadband users.

AVS is a domestically developed audio/video codec that is being considered as part of a global IPTV standard being drafted by the International Telecommunication Union. A recently released mobile TV specification, known as CMMB, also uses AVS as its codec. Still, China Telecom, the largest domestic telecom company, favors H.264.

AVS and H.264 are said to be about the same in terms of technical performance, but some chip makers have privately said they remain skeptical. Unlike MPEG-4/H.264, however, the AVS group probably will not charge "participation fees" to use the codec for subscription-based services, over-the-air free broadcasts or duplication of content on a title-by-title basis.

- Cai Yan
EE Times

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