Re: [rtcweb] A different perspective on the video codec MTI discussion

Daryl Malas <> Thu, 14 March 2013 04:18 UTC

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From: Daryl Malas <>
To: Jonathan Rosenberg <>, "" <>
Thread-Topic: [rtcweb] A different perspective on the video codec MTI discussion
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Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2013 04:18:13 +0000
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Subject: Re: [rtcweb] A different perspective on the video codec MTI discussion
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I would like to add my support to Jonathan's comments.  I have had discussions with multiple cable operators, which are evaluating the potential use cases of deploying webRTC.  The resounding comment is that if webRTC supports H.264, their flexibility to deploy it in the near-term on a number of devices improves dramatically.  If VP8 is the only allowable codec, this will significantly limit the deployment, because the relevant devices out there already support H.264 and not VP8.

In addition, by saying that we will only support a royalty-free codec (VP8), it is effectively saying we will not allow people to pay the necessary license fees (whether new or already realized) at their choosing in order to deploy more webRTC clients and further the overall adoption of webRTC.

Does it really increase the complexity so dramatically by supporting two video codecs that it outweighs the potential for faster adoption and deployment of webRTC?

I also second Jonathan's comments related to, "I applaud your efforts and thank you for them."  This is absolutely valuable from my perspective, and it has great potential for future use.



From: Jonathan Rosenberg <<>>
Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 6:06 PM
To: "<>" <<>>
Subject: [rtcweb] A different perspective on the video codec MTI discussion

I’d like to put a different perspective on the video MTI discussion.

Much of the discussion has been around video quality, IPR, and standardization status. While those are all important factors, to me they are secondary to the core question: how does the choice impact uptake of the webRTC APIs and protocols by developers who build applications ontop of it? In this regard, I would like to suggest that, at this time, adoption of VP8 as MTI will slow down adoption of webRTC by turning off developers that would otherwise embrace it if H.264 were selected.

The reason is simple. For many application developers, what is interesting about webRTC is NOT just browser to browser communications, but connecting users in a browser to users elsewhere - on other devices, in other networks. After all, the vast majority of web application developers do not have the luxury of a massive social graph, or the luxury of their users being parked persistently on their website and thus able to receive an incoming call. Many websites that have customer support or service needs would love to be able to allow their users to have a video call with an agent. However, those agents are probably sitting on existing agent systems which are not web based, and it’s almost certainly true that they do not today support VP8, but rather H.264. Many developers would probably love to connect users on the web with users on mobile apps. Most mobile platforms today support H264 based hardware acceleration for decode and sometimes encode, but not yet VP8. Developers who want to build business communications clients will need to connect those users with other users in the business, who may be using videophones, PC clients, telepresence units or video room systems, the vast majority of which do not support VP8 today, but many of which do support H.264.

The reality is – today’s Internet and IP communications systems are built on H.264. And unless the developer cares only about living within the island of the web browser – a VP8 based solution will simply not meet their requirements.

This may not be true down the road. I applaud Google for working hard (and spending much money no doubt) to secure an RF license for VP8 from these patent holders. I think they should continue pushing and promoting the technology because a  free, high quality video codec would be great for the Internet. But today, it is not the video codec of the Internet. And, given the relatively early days of video, I am sure there will be video codecs after VP8. Maybe H.265, maybe the new video codec being developed here at the IETF. And once those codecs become more broadly implemented and available on the endpoints that matter, we can revise our specs and mandate support for them. But this is not about the web of five years from now, its about the web today. And if we mandate usage of a codec which is not widely implemented in all the endpoints that matter (not just the browser), I fear that it will hold developers back from using webRTC and thus prevent us from ever having the opportunity to add these video codecs in the future.

And so – to the supporters of VP8 – I applaud your efforts and thank you for them. Please continue. And when the industry is ready, we can make VP8 MTI in the browser. But we are not there yet.  I ask you to please put the needs of the developers ahead of your own, and do not hold back webRTC for the benefit of your ideals around an RF and open source video codec. WebRTC is too important for that.

I have one more thing to say - speaking now as a developer.

As some of you may know, I recently returned to Cisco as CTO of the cloud collaboration group, which is responsible for Webex. Webex was one of the first services to do voice and video on the web, using plugins of course. For our business, a key requirement is interoperability with other video systems in the Cisco portfolio, including our video clients and telepresence units. Those are all based on H.264. Consequently, much as I would like to avoid the need for a plugin, the benefits of eliminating the plugin do not outweigh the drawbacks of having to transcode from VP8 to H.264. If IETF selects VP8 as the MTI codec, this will make it dramatically more difficult and expensive for us to use webRTC. If H.264 is the MIT codec, it will make it much easier for us to use webRTC.


Jonathan R.

Jonathan Rosenberg, Ph.D.<>