H.264 SVC: A Technical Assessment

An examination of the features, benefits and claims of this emerging videoconferencing standard.
H.264 Scalable Baseline Profile (hereafter dubbed “H.264 SVC” for scalable video coding) is the latest standard gaining traction in the videoconferencing marketplace. As is often the case with new technology, particularly when the new technology has disruptive potential, there are many claims and counter claims. Wainhouse Research (WR) has taken an independent approach in trying to assess the features, benefits, and drawbacks of SVC by comparing H.264 SVC vs. the current dominant standard, H.264 Baseline Profile, technically known as H.264 BP, although commonly called “H.264 AVC.” 

Within this report, WR compares the two H.264 profile implementations (H.264 BP and H.264 SVC) along several lines:

  • Impact on call quality
  • Reliance on network conditions
  • Ability to support both point-to-point and multipoint video calls
  • Compatibility with legacy videoconferencing equipment
  • The overall business case as it impacts videoconferencing customers

The study details the causes of videoconferencing problems over IP networks and how the nature of scalable video coding addresses these issues.   The 35-page report also details how the cost and performance characteristics of scalable video coding will affect videoconferencing end users and will change the market dynamics for both conferencing service providers and network service providers. Our conclusions are that when properly implemented and used in the proper situation, H.264 SVC represents a major evolutionary improvement over H.264 BP for most videoconferencing users.

No. of Pages: 
1 Nov 2009
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