Orange will introduce what could be the world’s first HEVC-based service this spring, delivering HD movies to 2013 models of Samsung Smart TVs in France. The innovation coincides with the launch of a new Orange VOD Connected TV service in partnership with Samsung, covering pre-2013 models as well.
The company revealed the partnership with Samsung at CES last week and was demonstrating the VOD service on the Samsung booth. A Full HD movie (1080p, 1920×1080 at 24/25 fps) was being played at 3Mbps thanks to the new video codec, which is due to become a standard imminently.
Gilles Teniou, who heads the video standardization activities in Orange, points out that the same movie, delivered using H.264, would require twice the bitrate. He says Orange identified two main opportunities with HEVC for its services: Giving users a better quality of experience while successfully managing video traffic on its networks, and making content available to more people. The bitrate reduction means more parts of a broadband network can cope with the bandwidth requirements for the video.
With the new VOD service, pre-2013 models of the Samsung Smart TVs will provide access to content encoded in H.264. The 2013 models will support this plus the HEVC content. The VOD service is a classic OTT offer from Orange, available to anyone with the right Samsung televisions regardless of which ISP they use. You do not have to be an Orange broadband or television customer to use this VOD offer.
It is expected that the HEVC video codec, which has been developed jointly by MPEG and the ITU-T, will be finalised by the end of January. The ambition for the new compression standard is to halve bitrates compared to MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 while maintaining the same level of picture quality.
Orange currently offers Full HD movies over its managed IPTV service (using a set-top box). HEVC means the telco can now make this type of movie available over-the-top. Standard 720p HD movies will also be delivered to the 2013 Samsung televisions using HEVC.
Orange, like other leading service providers, is investigating how to integrate HEVC into all its video services, from mobile TV to IPTV. Teniou points out that the codec will be critical for the introduction of Ultra High Definition TV (UHD). The company has not announced any timeframe for the wider use of HEVC, however.
Teniou is the Chairman of the Video Working Group at 3GPP SA4 and notes that this group plans to include HEVC capabilities into the 3GPP standards (for the mobile environment) in the new release 12, which will be finalized by June 2014. Orange is also part of the French collaborative project called 4Ever. This aims to define the UHD format and how to deploy UHD services using HEVC.
More Videonet HEVC content….
Videonet will be hosting a live webcast on January 22nd (free) to discuss the implications of HEVC for the multi-screen, IPTV and broadcast markets. You can find the details about that via the link below. Confirmed speakers include Thomas Helbo, CTO at the Danish cable operator Stofa. Webcast details (and register) here.
You can read more about the potential for HEVC and its likely uses, including why multi-screen/OTT is the initial market for HEVC-based services, here. Some people think HEVC is a game-changer, especially for OTT and multi-screen TV. It could also open the door to ultra HD.
Swisscom has already said it will use HEVC for set-top box based IPTV services in order to extend the reach of HDTV to nearly 100% of its homes. See video interview here.