Three Chinese web giants create streaming video “standard” • The Register

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Chinese web giants Alibaba, Tencent and ByteDance – the latter through its hyperscale cloud service Volcano Engine – have teamed up to create, in their terms, a new standard for video streaming.

The project was announced at a Chinese conference in late February. The register was able to find a little more information than was revealed in the Chinese press at the time.

We now know that the project aims to ensure a better experience in the first few seconds of a live stream by reducing the time it takes to launch a stream to a single second – or maybe even half that. The three companies say stream watchers today must count between three and six Mississippis waiting for streams to start – which is painful for individuals and intolerable if streams are routed to streaming platforms.

The “Ultra-Low Latency Live Streaming Protocol Signaling Standard” – that’s the name of the standard – achieves this low latency through innovative signaling techniques between client and server. The technology appears to rely on WebRTC, which the three Chinese giants lament for the lack of robust initial signaling features.

While all three companies have called their work “standard” and committed to making it accessible to everyone, The register was not able to find the code online. A discussion with one of the participating companies did not yield a definitive answer on when or how the project might be shared – either as open source software or as a project to be adopted by a standards body. .

Whatever the status of the project, if it can deliver on its promise of fast startups for streaming, it will be welcome – all streamers hate latency.

In China, quick-start video streaming is perhaps even more desirable, as the country’s e-commerce vendors increasingly turn to live-streamed infomercials to promote products. So technology matters to Alibaba. Tencent has reason to care because it offers a Netflix-like service called Tencent Video, and ByteDance cares because its flagship app TikTok is about video streaming (after video, after video — straight into your kids’ brains ).

If this technology is submitted to a standardization organization, the user-friendliness or not of the reception it finds there will be interesting to observe. Western nations and major democracies have explicitly stated that they want to dominate standardization processes, thanks to the collective belief that China wields disproportionate influence over the evolution of 5G standards and shapes them to some extent to meet needs. local.

Low-latency video streaming may not be as controversial as 5G, so perhaps the global reaction will be positive. But in the current geopolitical turmoil, who can predict anything? ®

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