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Japan broadcasters adopt AVC/H.264 video coding for mobile digital terrestrial broadcasting

Japan broadcasters NHK, TBS, NTV, TV Asahi, Fuji TV and TV Tokyo last week adopted the AVC/H.264 video coding for mobile segment digital terrestrial broadcasting.

A basic agreement was also announced between the broadcasters and MPEG LA on royalties and other terms involving the technology. Under the agreement, the broadcasters will have the option of paying a one-time fee of $2500 for each encoder used in transmitting AVC/H.264 video. The one-time fees will be offered as an alternative to annual fees. They will cover the use of AVC/H.264 video for free cable, free satellite and free terrestrial broadcast television.

The broadcasters said the agreement represents a major step forward in achieving mobile broadcast services. Still to come is the establishment of specifications for receiver terminals, the development of mobile personal receivers by manufacturers, and discussions with mobile communication operators. Estimates are that mobile broadcast services can begin in the first quarter of 2006.

AVC/H.264 video coding refers to the MPEG-4 Part 10 AVC/H.264 standard, an advanced video encoding and decoding technology jointly developed between the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) of the International Standards Organization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) and the Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

In addition to HDTV programs that can be watched on home TVs, the coding technology is expected to enable viewers using mobile personal receivers to receive low-bit rate images. These services will be offered simultaneously on the same broadcasting channel. Technically, the frequency bandwidth of one channel for digital terrestrial broadcasting is divided into 13 segments. Twelve of them will be used for home television viewers, and the remaining one to provide images for portable terminal users.

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