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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Istvan Sebestyen
IMTC President
Office +49 89 722 47230


Dave Lindbergh
Chair, IMTC Requirements Activity Group



ALLIANCE URGES ROYALTY-FREE H.264 VIDEO STANDARD

More than 20 firms join with IMTC to advocate royalty-free profile critical to market acceptance of next-generation video compression standard

San Ramon, CA - February 20, 2003 - A group of over 20 companies, working in conjunction with the International Multimedia Telecommunications Consortium (IMTC), have formed an alliance to advocate the final approval of a royalty-free baseline profile for the upcoming H.264 Advanced Video Coding (H.264/AVC) standard. The royalty-free profile will enable industry to bring an open, internationally standardized video codec to market quickly, without time-consuming and fractious licensing negotiations, and avoids the market risks associated with proprietary codecs.

Alliance members include Cisco Systems, Deutsche Telekom, FastVDO, Glance Networks, Polycom, RADVISION, Sand Video, Sun Microsystems, TANDBERG, UBVideo, ViXS Systems, and Vweb, plus more than 10 other leading technology firms and the IMTC.

The H.264/AVC standard is approaching completion by the Joint Video Team (JVT), which brings together video experts from industry and academia in the International Telecommunications Union's Video Coding Experts Group (ITU VCEG), and the International Organization for Standardization's Moving Pictures Experts Group (ISO MPEG). H.264 will be simultaneously known as H.264 and MPEG-4 Part 10 AVC. This cooperative effort by researchers from industry and academia has resulted in a standard that is believed to perform better than any existing standard or proprietary codec.

This advanced performance is expected to create a revolution in how digital video is created and disseminated. H.264 can enable high-definition movies on DVD, two to three times more TV channels on cable and satellite, smooth video over mobile phones, and promising new applications. The outstanding technical issues for the standard were settled at the December 2002 meeting of JVT in Japan; H.264 is due to be released as an international standard in the summer of 2003.

"To promote the growth of new video applications, dozens of companies, including vendors of proprietary codecs, have offered their patents on a royalty-free basis for the baseline H.264, providing that other patent holders do the same. While the "Baseline Profile" aims to be offered royalty-free, other profiles, offering additional performance and functionality, will be offered on a royalty basis. This will provide choice in the marketplace between performance, price and features." said Dave Lindbergh, chairman of the IMTC Requirements Working Group, and Rapporteur for ITU-T Q.E/16 on Media Coding.

While alliance members note recent efforts to offer proprietary codecs for license, an open standard that is truly royalty-free will most efficiently encourage the widespread use of the state-of-the-art technology, to the benefit of consumers and industry worldwide.

Only technical proposals offered on terms compatible with the royalty-free goal were accepted for the baseline profile by JVT, whose charter includes the royalty-free goal. In addition to the alliance members, Germany, Norway and the United States have taken strong positions supporting the royalty-free baseline at ITU meetings in Geneva.

"Open international standards provide the best means for achieving multi-vendor interoperability. Experience has shown that the collective efforts of researchers from industry and academia worldwide results in technology of superior performance, flexibility, and implementation efficiency, compared to the proprietary offerings of any single organization", stated Istvan Sebestyen, President of the IMTC and Chief Engineer, Head of Department, Standardization Multimedia & Applications at Siemens AG.

About the IMTC
The International Multimedia Telecommunications Consortium (IMTC) is an industry-leading non-profit organization whose mission is to promote, encourage, and facilitate the development and implementation of interoperable multimedia conferencing solutions based on open international standards. The IMTC hosts interoperability testing events and demonstrations throughout the world. Over the past three years the IMTC has hosted more than 60 interoperability-testing events to test T.120, H .320, H.323, H.324, SIP, and Voice over IP products and services with each other. The IMTC Board of Directors includes representatives from Avaya, Cisco Systems, France Telecom, Nokia, Polycom, RADVISION, Ridgeway Systems, Siemens AG, Sony, TANDBERG, Telverse, and WorldCom. The San Ramon, California -based consortium comprises close to 100 member organizations from around the globe. Membership is open to any interested party, including vendors of audio, document, and video conferencing hardware and software; academic institutions; government agencies; and non-profit organizations. "The IMTC is making Rich Media happen Anywhere, Anytime." Further information on IMTC can be found at http://www.imtc.org.

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