WebRTC Expert Feature

November 21, 2013

WebRTC Working Group in IETF Proposes Voting on Mandatory Video Codec

One of the big remaining issues to WebRTC becoming a major force in the industry has been the choice of the mandatory codec for video.  Both VP8 and H.264 have been proposed as the mandatory codec.  VP8, provided as open source by Google, has been positioned as a logical codec as it is "royalty free" as Google has negotiated with MPEG-LA for an industry license.  However, there are other potential IPR issues beyond MPEG-LA as well as not having interoperability with existing hardware acceleration from companies like Apple.  On the other hand, H.264 requires an MPEG-LA license for any vendor selling more than 100K ports, which has a huge impact on startups and other potential change agents.  In addition, there has been an ongoing debate about the relative quality of each, often extending long into the night.

A major theme at this week's WebRTC Conference & Expo has been that as a community, we need to have at least one common video codec - without a common interoperable codec, applications between different browsers and medias server and other peers may not interoperate and it throws the whole success of WebRTC into question.   If we can't build applications and services that reliably work, users won't use it.

To assure the WebRTC can emerge in the marketplace, the IETF needs to select a mandatory video codec that all WebRTC devices must include use.  This does not negate the ability to have the capability to negotiate to use other or potentially better codecs, but a single common interoperable codec is absolutely essential.   

While the IETF does not normally use voting to make decisions, that voting can be used if there is consensus to use that process to choose a "mandatory to implement" codec. The IETF has proposed a way to run this process at:  www.tinyurl.com/IETFcodec.

However, the IETF needs to have consensus of the community to use this process. Your input on whether the IETF should do this or not is important.  If the IETF fails to get consensus from the community to use this process, the most likely outcome is that the standards will not select any common codec. The community includes people that build WebRTC applications and services, the people that use them, and the people developing browsers, media servers, as well as others. The IETF wants to hear from developers and companies using the WebRTC technology.

The IETF takes input from any individuals  -- you can provide you input by subscribing to the email list at: www.tinyurl.com/IETFrtcweb.

You can also send an email to the [email protected] and providing your input about if the IETF should use the voting process or not.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey


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