The Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) has announced that it’s close to releasing a new MPEG standard, called H.265, that is twice as efficient as the current H.264 and H.263 standards. It might sound like a big “who cares” to you, but consider it for just a moment.
Currently probably the biggest cause of data plan bill-shock is video streaming. It’s difficult to keep a gauge on just how much data you’re using when streaming video, especially HD video. However, we’re becoming increasingly dependant on it as a mode of entertainment not only when at home, but when out and about.
H.265 can offer video of the same quality as H2.64 (probably the video standard you use most on your phone) but for half the data. For heavy video streamers that’s suddenly a huge amount of extra value that can be squeezed out of that expensive data plan.
Moreover, it means that you can access video of twice the quality for no added cost. HD video might finally start being a viable mobile device alternative to 360 or even 240p content. That’s great news for iPhone and Android users alike; iPhone with its retina display and Android devices with their new 720p screens. Windows Phone 8 should also hopefully deliver devices of around 720p resolution when it’s released, possibly in September.
With 720p HD video streaming suddenly becoming a viable thing over 3G we might start seeing an increased public interest in high-end devices. Not a substantial one, mind you, but the ability to stream HD content to an HD display without having to fork out for a 4G plan or, in most areas, wait until 4G LTE become available to you could actually be the push some folk need to move from the mid-range up to high end handsets.
Alternatively, and probably more likely, is that most users will barely notice their newfound ability to access video data at twice the quality or with twice the data cost. We should see bill shock go down as a result, but the thing about bill shock is that it’s always unexpected. As such a user who would have accidentally gone over their plan with H.264 but that is now well within their cap using H.265 will be none the wiser of how much effort MPEG went to in the background to save them a tonne of money.
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