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IPTV standards battle heats up in China

Posted: 10 Nov 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

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

After winning a design-in for IPTV at China's second largest wireline telecom, backers of a domestic codec believe the nation's top telco will also switch away from H.264 and over to the Audio Video Coding Standard (AVS).

Cost will be that main reason, said Huang Tiejun, secretary general of the AVS Working Group. "The operators are thinking of the cost of the system over the next 10 years, so we cannot just consider today's cost," Huang said, acknowledging that current implementations of AVS are more expensive. "The system cost for AVS will eventually be the same or a little cheaper than H.264," he said.

Earlier this month, China Netcom said it would use AVS, despite already running most of its IPTV trials with H.264. It said it would favor equipment makers who offered free changeovers of its system as long-term partners. The nation's largest telco, China Telecom, has given no public indication that it will use AVS. Its officials have publicly hinted that H.264 is their choice. However, China's policy to support local standards can sometimes trump the pure business case.

There are three design houses in China that have silicon for AVSCelestial Semiconductor, Grandview Semiconductor and Longjing Microelectronics. Broadcom Corp. is also planning to release a chip supporting AVS in the spring, Huang said. STMicroelectronics has been waiting to see if AVS will be used in the satellite STB market, but because it's still unclear, the company has not committed to developing chips.

AVS is a domestically developed audio/video codec. 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.

AVS is currently being consideredalong with many other technologiesas part of a global IPTV standard being drafted by the International Telecommunications Union. A recently released mobile TV specification in China, known as CMMB, also uses AVS as its codec.

- Mike Clendenin
EE Times

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