## ATSC 3.0 Announcements at CES 2019

With the ATSC 3.0 standard essentially finished last year, the casual observer might have expected to see new product at this year’s CES Show in Las Vegas.

Indeed, while there were a few 3.0 TVs scattered about – including at invitation-only showings by well-known TV manufacturers at suites and hotels – they were only early prototypes, since we shouldn’t expect to see real product announcements until the 2020 show – which just happens to be when broadcasters have said they will crank up transmissions using the new standard.

Echoing this at the show was the VP of Communications at LG, John Taylor, who said, “We expect that the launch pad is really 2020,” which is consistent with the typical 18 to 24 month silicon design cycle for chips to follow a new standard.

ATSC 3.0 is, of course, the latest version of the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standard. It will support several advances including mobile viewing, 3D television, 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD), high dynamic range (HDR), high frame rate (HFR), and wide color gamut (WCG) picture quality, as well as immersive audio and interactivity.

Until we see those new products emerge, the news we’re more likely to see will be from broadcasters.

### Industry Leaders Collaborate to Launch ATSC 3.0 Chip for Broadcast and Mobile Applications

ONE Media LLC, a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, and India’s Saankhya Labs, together with VeriSilicon and Samsung Foundry, announced at CES the successful launch of an advanced multi-standard demodulator System-on-a-Chip (SoC) supporting the ATSC 3.0 standard.

The universal demodulator chip is based on Saankhya’s patented Software Defined Radio Platform, and supports 12 DTV standards including ATSC 3.0, DVB-T2, ISDB-T, and satellite and cable standards for TV, set-top boxes, and home gateways, as well for automotive and mobile applications.

This announcement follows Sinclair Broadcast Group’s recent commitment to a nationwide roll-out of ATSC 3.0 service and its past announcement to fund millions of chipset giveaways for wireless operators.

Two variants of the chip were announced: a “Demod-only” variant, SL3000, is designed for TV applications such as in HDTV sets, Set-top Boxes (STB) and home gateways. A “Demod-plus” Tuner variant, SL4000, is designed for mobile and portable devices, possibly making it the world’s first mobile-ready ATSC 3.0 chip. The mobile device is targeted to accelerate the adoption of the ATSC 3.0 standard across markets with both Direct-To-Mobile TV capabilities and Broadcast/Broadband convergence solutions.

The demodulator SoC was designed and developed by Saankhya Labs with ASIC turnkey design and manufacturing services from VeriSilicon, using Samsung Foundry’s state-of-the-art 28FDS (Fully Depleted SOI) process technology), chosen for its low-power capabilities.

Mark Aitken, President of ONE Media 3.0, said,

These mobile 3.0 chips validate the ‘sea change’ in over-the-air distribution of not only television, but all digital data. Broadcasters are doing their part by deploying the NextGen transmission facilities, and now there will be devices enabled to receive that data, personalized and in mobile form. This chip is the key to that disruptive future in a 5G world.”

### Broadcasters and Mobile Operators Partner to Deploy ATSC 3.0 – Harman Separately Partnering in Mobile Applications

SK Telecom and Sinclair Broadcast Group announced in Las Vegas that the companies signed a joint venture agreement to lead next-generation broadcasting solutions market in the U.S. and globally. The two companies will jointly fund and manage a joint venture company within the first quarter of this year. The joint venture company will develop innovative broadcasting solutions based on ATSC 3.0.

The commercialization of broadcasting solutions based on ATSC 3.0 – which enables data communications in broadcasting bands – will give rise to new services such as personalized advertisement and in-vehicle terrestrial TV broadcasting and map updates. It will also support two-way communication between broadcasting companies and user’s smartphone/vehicle/TV by recognizing user’s personal IP address.

SK Telecom and Sinclair anticipate all television broadcasting stations throughout the U.S. will adopt broadcasting solutions based on ATSC 3.0 within the next decade. Through the joint venture company, the two companies plan to actively provide ATSC 3.0 standards-based solutions to all U.S. broadcasting companies and seek other opportunities globally. The joint venture agreement follows last year’s memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between SK Telecom and Sinclair at CES 2018 to jointly develop leading technology for ATSC 3.0 broadcasting.

Separately, the two companies also announced at the 2019 CES Show that they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Harman International, a subsidiary of Samsung, to jointly develop and commercialize digital broadcasting network-based automotive electronics technology for global markets.

The companies intend to unveil their automotive platform and related equipment and services for the first time at the 2019 National Association of Broadcasters Show (NAB Show) in Las Vegas in April 2019.

— agc

## ATSC 3.0 Featured Prominently at 2018 NAB Conference

“The Road to ATSC 3.0: Powered by ATSC 3.0” Ribbon Cutting CeremonyDeployment of ATSC 3.0 is off and running, with a strong showing this month at this year’s NAB Conference in Las Vegas. More than 40 exhibitors and 22 technology-and-business sessions demonstrated the level of interest in the new Next Generation Broadcast TV standard, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony kicking off the activities.

ATSC President Mark Richer underscored the level of 3.0 presence at the show, saying “That’s how we know it’s real, and that’s how we know it’s happening,” and Sam Metheny, EVP/CTO at NAB, said that while ATSC is now “moving to the implementation phase,” it is a “living standard that will continue to evolve over time.” Mike Bergman, ‎Senior Director, Technology & Standards at the Consumer Technology Association, anticipates “broad deployment, and a breathtakingly immersive viewing experience,” which should complement the growing momentum of 4K TV sales.

Now that the ATSC 3.0 standard has been approved, broadcasters can develop two-way, IP-based connections with their viewers and deliver TV experiences on par with other digital media. Looking to the future, conference panelists addressed key Next Gen TV capabilities, including enhanced audience insights, addressable advertising, interactivity, and personalization, along with plans to generate incremental revenue and audience engagement.

Broadcasters are used to slow change, but now need to change faster, even on a monthly basis. The world is changing faster, and consumer demands are changing, with OTA viewership growing, and OTT services and usage growing. Mobile viewing continues to increase, a cord cutting / shaving / nevers are changing TV marketplace dynamics. On-demand viewing is an assumed feature, and digital advertising is increasingly powerful, so targeted advertising is now essential.

SFNs (single-frequency networks, a broadcast technology comparable to mobile cellular networks) will enable all of these new services, and data analytics will drive the opportunities. The WiFi/mobile broadband return channel defined by ATSC 3.0 means that even simple receivers need a back channel.

While MVPDs (Multichannel video programming distributors, i.e. cable and satellite) have long provided a revenue stream to broadcasters through retransmission-consent agreements, this could be one key area of the change in business model made possible by ATSC 3.0, which is not mandated by the FCC, other than at the transmission layer, and whose carriage is not currently subject to retrans obligations.

Broadcasters are interested in gathering viewership data from mobile devices and doing dynamic ad insertion. Reaching individuals will be attractive to advertisers, and broadcasters can now put movies into home boxes for Netflix, bypassing MVPDs. ATSC 3.0 is thus poised as a medium to test new business models, and broadcasters can partner with other spectrum owners and mobile carriers to supplement the “traditional” mobile spectrum.

The Phoenix Model Market project is the first collaborative single-market effort to plan for and implement a transition to next-generation over-the-air television broadcasting. Twelve stations in the Phoenix market are participating, with service testing expected to start Q2’18, and consumer service testing in Q4’18. In addition to business model testing, consumer testing will extend into 2019.

Among the consumer-facing business models to be tested are program guide & hybrid TV, personalization, and emergency alerts. On the broadcaster side, content protection, data & measurement, advanced advertising, and transition models will be evaluated.

— agc

AGC Systems has advised and worked with clients to influence, develop, and realize the technologies that form the basis of Next Generation Broadcast Television (NGBT), including the ATSC 3.0 Broadcast Standards.  Starting with the original ATSC Planning Teams, and progressing to the latest developments, we have participated closely in the development of:

As a result of our advisory services, our clients have achieved their short- and long-term objectives for new business development.

## There’s No Such Thing as RMS Power!

This is one of my engineering pet peeves — I keep running into students and (false) advertisements that describe a power output in “RMS watts.”  The fact is, such a construct, while mathematically possible, has no meaning or relevance in engineering.  Power is measured in watts, and while the concepts of average and peak watts is tenable, “RMS power” is a fallacy.  Here’s why.

The power dissipated by a resistive load is equal to the square of the voltage across the load, divided by the resistance of the load.  Mathematically, this is expressed as [Eq.1]:

$$\large P=\frac{V^{2}}{R}$$

where P is the power in watts, V is the voltage in volts, and R is the resistance in ohms.  When we have a DC signal, calculating the power in the load is straightforward.  The complication arises when we have a time-varying signal, such as an alternating current (AC), e.g, an audio signal or an RF signal.  In the case of power, the most elementary time-varying function involved is the sine function.

When measuring the power dissipated in a load carrying an AC signal, we have different ways of measuring that power.  One is the instantaneous or time-varying power, which is Equation 1 applied all along the sinusoid as a time-varying function.  (We will take r = 1 here, as a way of simplifying the discussion; in practice, we would use an appropriate value, e.g., 50Ω in the case of an RF load.)

In Figure 1, the dotted line (green) trace is our 1-volt (peak) sinusoid. (The horizontal axis is in degrees.) The square of this function (the power as a function of time) is the dark blue trace, which is essentially a “raised cosine” function.  Since the square is always a positive number, we see that the power as a function of time rises and falls as a sinusoid, at twice the frequency of the original voltage.  This function itself has relatively little use in most applications.

Another quantity is the peak power, which is simply Equation 1 above, where V is taken to be the peak value of the sinusoid, in this case, 1.  This is also known as peak instantaneous power (not to be confused with peak envelope power, or PEP).  The peak instantaneous power is useful to understand certain limitations of electronic devices, and is expressed as follows:

$$\large P_{pk}=\frac{V^{2}_{pk}}{R}$$

A more useful quantity is the average power, which will provide the equivalent heating factor in a resistive device.  This is calculated by taking the mean of the square of the voltage signal, divided by the resistance. Since the sinusoidal power function is symmetric about its vertical midpoint, simple inspection (see Figure 1 again) tells us that the mean value is equal to one-half of the peak power [Eq.2]:

$$\large P_{avg}=\frac{P_{pk}}{2}=\frac{V^{2}_{pk}/R}{2}$$

which in this case is equal to 0.5.  We can see this in Figure 1, where the average of the blue trace is the dashed red trace.  Thus, our example of a one-volt-peak sinusoid across a one-ohm resistor will result in an average power of 0.5 watts.

Now the concept of “RMS” comes in, which stands for “root-mean-square,” i.e., the square-root of the mean of the square of a function.  (The “mean” is simply the average.) The purpose of RMS is to present a particular statistical property of that function.  In our case, we want to associate a “constant” value with a time-varying function, one that provides a way of describing the “DC-equivalent heating factor” of a sinusoidal signal.

Taking the square-root of  V2pk/2 therefore provides us with the root-mean-square voltage (not power) across the resistor; in this example, that means that the 1-volt (peak) sinusoid has an RMS voltage of

$$\large V_{rms}=\sqrt{\frac{V^{2}_{pk}}{2}}=\frac{V_{pk}}{\sqrt{2}}\approx 0.7071$$

Thus, if we applied a DC voltage of 0.7071 volts across a 1Ω resistor, it would consume the same power (i.e., dissipate the same heat) as an AC voltage of 1 volt peak.  (Note that the RMS voltage does not depend on the value of the resistance, it is simply related to the peak voltage of the sinusoidal signal.) Plugging this back into Eq. 2 then gives us:

$$\large P_{avg}=\frac{V^{2}_{rms}}{R}$$

Note the RMS voltage is used to calculate the average power. As a rule, then, we can calculate the RMS voltage of a sinusoid this way:

$$\large V_{rms} \approx 0.7071 \cdot V_{pk}$$

Graphically, we can see this in Figure 2:

The astute observer will note that 0.7071 is the value of sin(45°) to four places. This is not a coincidence, but we leave it to the reader to figure out why.  Note that for more complex signals, the 0.7071 factor no longer holds.  A triangle wave, for example, yields Vrms ≈ 0.5774 · Vpk , where 0.5774 is the value of tan(30°) to four places.

For those familiar with calculus, the root-mean-square of an arbitrary function is defined as:

$$\large F_{rms} = \sqrt{\frac{1}{T_{2}-T_{1}}\int_{T_{1}}^{T_{2}}[f(t)]^{2}\, dt}$$

Replacing f(t) with sin(t) (or an appropriate function for a triangle wave) will produce the numerical results we derived above.

Because of the squaring function, one may get the sense that RMS is only relevant for functions that go positive and negative, but this is not true.

RMS can be applied to any set of distributed values, including only-positive ones. Take, for example, the RMS of a rectified (absolute value of a) sine wave. As before, Vrms=.7071 · Vpk , i.e., the RMS is the same as for the full-wave case. However, Vavg ≈ 0.6366 · Vpk for the rectified wave (but equals zero for the full-wave, of course; 0.6366 is the value of 2/π to four places). So, we can take the RMS of a positive-only function, and it can be different than the average of that function.

The general purpose of the RMS function is to calculate a statistical property of a set of data (such as a time-varying signal). So the application is not just to positive-going data, but to any data that varies over the set.

agc

## FCC Circulates NPRM to Authorize “Next Generation” Broadcast Television

THE FCC has pre-released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), supporting the authorization of television broadcasters to use the “Next Generation” broadcast television (Next Gen TV) transmission standard developed by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (“ATSC 3.0”). They support a voluntary, market-driven basis, while broadcasters continue to deliver current-generation digital television (DTV) broadcast service, using the ATSC A/53 standard.

ATSC 3.0 is being developed by broadcasters with the intent of merging the capabilities of over-the-air (OTA) broadcasting with the broadband viewing and information delivery methods of the Internet, using the same 6 MHz channels presently allocated for DTV.

A coalition of broadcast and consumer electronics industry representatives has petitioned the Commission to authorize the use of ATSC 3.0, saying this new standard has the potential to greatly improve broadcast signal reception, particularly on mobile devices and television receivers without outdoor antennas, and that it will enable broadcasters to offer enhanced and innovative new features to consumers, including Ultra High Definition (UHD) picture and immersive audio, more localized programming content, an advanced emergency alert system (EAS) capable of waking up sleeping devices to warn consumers of imminent emergencies, better accessibility options, and interactive services.

With this action, the FCC says its aim is “to facilitate private sector innovation and promote American leadership in the global broadcast industry.” This document has been circulated for tentative consideration by the Commission at its open meeting on February 23. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has determined that, in the interest of promoting the public’s ability to understand the nature and scope of issues under consideration by the Commission, the public interest would be served by making this document publicly available before officially requesting public comment.

## Goal is to Assure Quality Consumer Experience, Interoperability Between Next-Gen Receivers and Broadcast Content

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2016 – The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) related to the development of Conformance Test Suite Development and Conformity Assessment programs to support the implementation of the ATSC 3.0 next-generation television broadcast standard.

According to ATSC President Mark Richer, the high-level goals of these programs include assuring a quality experience for consumers when viewing and interacting with ATSC 3.0 content, and assuring interoperability between broadcast content and receivers.

“The ATSC expects TV stations to begin testing in earnest in 2017, with early U.S. market deployments in the first half of 2018. To help achieve the highest quality user experience and to assure interoperability, the ATSC and other industry groups have a keen interest in the development of test suites and tools,” Richer said.

The RFI seeks input from industry experts in four areas of testing — Coding, Transmission & Reception; Data & Metadata; and Interactivity; and Security.  Specifically, the RFI addresses test suites, test automation, version management, test result formats and administration. The RFI also focuses on program management, including policy and procedure development and third-party assessment plans, as well as implementation tools and experience.

Richer explained that the RFI responses will inform the ATSC and allied organizations as they establish a framework, including initial plans and high-level budgeting, for the conformity assessment program.  It is expected the program will eventually be administered under the auspices of one or more industry organizations.

Current planning and technical work for ATSC 3.0 is focused on Internet Protocol-based service delivery and lays the foundation for improved viewing features, such as 4K Ultra HD, targeted advertising, high dynamic range and mobile/portable reception. ATSC 3.0 provides broadcasters the opportunity to deliver an enhanced viewing experience with interactive applications and program guides, including access to pre-cached video for later playback by viewers.

# # #

The Advanced Television Systems Committee is defining the future of television with the ATSC 3.0 next-generation broadcast standard.   ATSC is an international, non-profit organization developing voluntary standards for digital television. The ATSC’s 140-plus member organizations represent the broadcast, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite, and semiconductor industries. For more information visit www.atsc.org.

## Industry Analysis

AGC Systems has provided keen and valuable industry analysis for both private and journalism outlets.  These include the most respected media that professionals turn to for technical, business and investment information.

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Our significant experience has covered a wide gamut of content providers, manufacturers, and associated interests.*

Our clients include, and have included:

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References are available on request, including senior executives at large private-sector companies and public-sector organizations.

*Some of the companies shown are past employers.

## Expertise

AGC Systems has diverse expertise in the technologies and businesses of the consumer electronics and broadcast industries.

Our capabilities include:

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We also produce and deliver talks and workshops to bring that information to audiences.  Here’s a sample of what we’ve brought to our clients:

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We have extensive experience with various software tools used for analyzing and processing images, audio, video, and streamed data.  These include:

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We have years of top-notch writing experience, for diverse media.  This includes:

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We have built ground-up websites for various clients.  Our capabilities include:

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We can support projects, both new and already underway, and can do so in a cost-effective manner that builds on our broad cross-sector business exposure and experience.  As consultants, we can bring a new perspective to achieving your goals.

“Think outside the box: the greatest threat to progress is to always do things the same way…”

## HEVC and VP9 Comparison for IP Video: Which Will Win the Day?

Internet video has become a practical medium for the delivery of video content to consumers. What has made this possible is the development of video compression, which lowers the enormous amount of bandwidth required to transport video to levels practical with most Internet connections. In this article, we’ll examine some of the technical and business issues associated with two video codec frontrunners: HEVC and VP9.

HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding, also called MPEG-H Part 2 and ITU-T H.265) is a state-of-the-art video compression standard that provides about a 50 percent bit rate savings over H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, which in turn provided a similar efficiency over its MPEG-2 predecessor.

AVC solutions have already become widespread in many professional and consumer devices. HEVC, having been ratified by ISO and ITU in 2013, is similarly growing in the same applications, and would appear to be on the road to replacing the earlier codecs. But while MPEG and HEVC have been developed by standards committees representing a legion of strong industrial players, other forces have sought to displace their primacy, most notably, Google, with its VP9. First, let’s look at the toolkit of each codec.

HEVC incorporates numerous improvements over AVC, including a new prediction block structure and updates that include intra-prediction, inverse transforms, motion compensation, loop filtering and entropy coding. HEVC uses a new concept called coding units (CUs), which sub-partition a picture into arbitrary rectangular regions. The CU replaces the macroblock structure of previous video coding standards, which had been used to break pictures down into areas that could be coded using transform functions. CUs can contain one or more transform units (TUs, the basic unit for transform and quantization), but can also add prediction units (PUs, the elementary unit for intra- and inter-prediction).

HEVC divides video frames into a hierarchical quadtree coding structure that uses coding units, prediction units and transform units. CUs, TUs and PUs are grouped in a treelike structure, with the individual branches having different depths for different portions of a picture, all of which form a generic quadtree segmentation structure of large coding units.

While AVC improved on MPEG-2 by allowing multiple block sizes for transform coding and motion compensation, HEVC coding tree blocks can be either 64×64, 32×32, 16×16 or 8×8 pixel regions, and the coding units can now be hierarchically subdivided, all the way down to 4×4 sized units. The use of tree blocks allows parallel processors to decode and predict using data from multiple partitions—called wavefront parallel processing (WPP), which supports multi-threaded decode.

Because this new coding structure avoids the repetitive blocks of AVC, HEVC is better at reducing blocking artifacts, while at the same time providing a more efficient coding of picture details. HEVC also specifies several planar and DC modes, which reconstruct smooth regions or directional structures in a way that hides artifacts better. An internal bit depth increase allows encoding of video pictures by processing them with a color depth higher than 8 bits.

Motion compensation is provided with two new methods, and luma and chroma motion vectors are calculated to quarter- and eighth-pixel accuracy, respectively. A new deblocking filter is also provided, which operates only on edges that are on the block grid. After the deblocking filter, HEVC provides two new optional filters, designed to minimize coding artifacts.

### VP9 Web Video Format Improves on VP8

With YouTube carrying so much video content, it stands to reason that the service’s parent, Google, has a vested interest in not just the technology behind video compression, but also in some of the market considerations attached therein. To that end, VP9 has been developed to provide a royalty-free alternative to HEVC.

Many of the tools used in VP9 (and its predecessor, VP8) are similar to those used in HEVC—but ostensibly avoid the intellectual property used in the latter. VP9 supports the image format used for many web videos: 4:2:0 color sampling, 8 bits-per-channel color depth, progressive scan, and image dimensions up to 16,383×16,383 pixels; it can go well past these specs, however, supporting 4:4:4 chroma and up to 12 bits per sample.

VP9 supports superblocks that can be recursively partitioned into rectangular blocks. The Chromium, Chrome, Firefox and Opera browsers now all support playing VP9 video in the HTML5 video tag. Both VP8 and VP9 video are usually encapsulated in a format called WebM, a Matroska-based container also supported by Google, which can carry Vorbis or Opus audio.

VP8 uses a 4×4 block-based discrete cosine transform (DCT) for all luma and chroma residual pixels. The DC coefficients from 16×16 macroblocks can then undergo a 4×4 Walsh-Hadamard transform. Three reference frames are used for inter-prediction, limiting the buffer size requirement to three frame buffers, while storing a “golden reference frame” from an arbitrary point in the past.

VP9 augments these tools by adding 32×32 and 64×64 superblocks, which can be recursively partitioned into rectangular blocks, with enhanced intra and inter modes, allowing for more efficient coding of arbitrary block patterns within a macroblock. VP9 introduces the larger 8×8 and 16×16 DCTs, as well as the asymmetric DST (discrete sine transform), both of which provide more coding options.

Like HEVC, VP9 supports sub-pixel interpolation and adaptive in-loop deblocking filtering, where the type of filtering can be adjusted depending on other coding parameters, as well as data partitioning to allow parallel processing.

### Comparing HEVC and VP9

As you would expect, performance depends on who you ask. Google says VP9 delivers a 50 percent gain in compression levels over VP8 and H.264 standards while maintaining the same video quality. HEVC supporters make the same claim, which would put VP9 close to HEVC in quality. But some academic studies show that HEVC can provide a bit rate savings of over 43 percent compared to VP9. Why the disparity? One likely reason is that using different tools within each codec can yield widely varying results, depending on the video material. The other is that, despite some labs having developed objective tools to rate image quality, the best metric is still the human visual system, which means that double-blind subjective testing must be done, and that will always have statistical anomalies.

But another important factor must be considered as well, and that’s complexity. While both HEVC and VP9 demand more computational power at the decoder, the required encoding horsepower has been shown to be higher (sometimes more than 10 times) for HEVC in the experiments where it outperformed VP9 on bit rate.

There’s a strong motivation for advancing an alternative to HEVC: VP9 is a free codec, unencumbered by license fees. Licenses for HEVC and AVC are administered by MPEG LA, a private firm that oversees “essential patents” owned by numerous companies participating in a patent pool.

Earlier this year, MPEG LA announced that a group of 25 companies agreed on HEVC license terms; an AVC Patent Portfolio License already provides coverage for devices that decode and encode AVC video, AVC video sold to end users for a fee on a title or subscription basis, and free television video services. Earlier, MPEG LA announced that its AVC Patent Portfolio License will not charge royalties for Internet video that is free to end users (known as “Internet Broadcast AVC Video”) during the entire life of the license; presumably, this means the life of the patents.

Last year, Google and MPEG LA announced that they had entered into agreements granting Google a license to techniques that may be essential to VP8 and earlier-generation VPx video compression technologies under patents owned by 11 patent holders. The agreements also grant Google the right to sublicense those techniques to any user of VP8, whether the VP8 implementation is by Google or another entity. It further provides for sublicensing those VP8 techniques in one next-generation VPx video codec.

So, while there is no license fee required to use VP8, there are other terms imposed—a so-called FRAND-zero license—and users may need a license to fully benefit from the Google-MPEG-LA agreement. One result of the agreements is that MPEG LA decided to discontinue its effort to form a VP8 patent pool.

Apparently, VP9 is a further attempt to provide a shield against the MPEG patent owners, by using elements thought to evade existing granted patents. But HEVC has already made inroads into commercial hardware and software, following on the heels of the already widespread MPEG-4/AVC rollout, and this could make an uptake of VP9 difficult. And even the best intents of the VP8/VP9 developers can be subverted: it’s always possible that a “submarine patent” could emerge, with its owner claiming infringement.

This has already happened, with smartphone maker Nokia suing HTC over its use of the VP8 codec. In this particular case, a court in Mannheim, Germany, ruled that VP8 does not infringe Nokia’s patent—but the possibility always exists of another challenge. While the specter of another contest could be enough to give some manufacturers pause, tilting support toward the “safer” HEVC, it could just as well be subject to some other submarine patent.

A final note: Google has announced that development on VP10 has begun, and that after the release of VP10, they plan to have an 18-month gap between releases of video standards.