One of the challenges as WebRTC rolls out has been the question of which video codec will be incorporated in the standard. Google, the creator and driving force behind WebRTC, included and has been pushing for the VP8 video codec, instead of the much more commonly-deployed H.264. In the meantime, licensing has been the main issue blocking H.264's inclusion in WebRTC. Now that obstacle has been removed.
Cisco announced today that it would take its internal H.264 implementation and open-source it under the BSD, and will compile the code into a "binary module" that can be included in any browser maker's implementation of WebRTC. Cisco further stated that Mozilla has agreed to do just this, effectively ensuring that H.264 encoding and decoding will be a part of future Firefox releases.
Jonathan Rosenberg, Cisco CTO of cloud collaboration, said that clearing the path for H.264 inclusion in WebRTC is the quickest and surest way to get to video interoperability with the standard.
"Like it or not, there’s just a lot of H.264 out there," Rosenberg told me in a phone briefing. All of Cisco’s current-generation video products are based on H.264, and "H.264 is the foundation for video on the Internet." He added that it "risks the success of WebRTC as a whole" if it doesn’t support H.264.
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