A recent United States Federal court ruling has gone against Qualcomm, the originator of the MPEG-4-type video compression format called H.264. According to published reports, Qualcomm’s “bad acting” has resulted in the Fed’s disallowing Qualcomm’s claim of a patent on this technology. Unless Qualcomm appeals the ruling to a higher court, it would appear that they will lose the ability to charge a license fee for those implementing H.264 into their video products.

What does this mean for our industry? If H.264 is available at no cost, this high-end compression format can be put into IP cameras, encoders and NVRs without the software license fees that are currently included in IP-enabled security devices that are using the licensed MPEG-4 format. This should lower the price of these devices, which is desperately needed to help propel IP security video sales and installations.

Which vendor(s) will take the plunge to standardize on this format and reduce their product costs? Perhaps the Security Industry Association (SIA) will take advantage of this situation to push their manufacturer member companies to implement H.264 as an industry standard.

To understand the importance of standardized communication protocols, consider the incredible market penetration that the 802.3 Ethernet standard has achieved in worldwide computer networking. Virtually everyone has Ethernet connectivity working right now in his or her homes and businesses.

When Ethernet was originally developed in the late 1970s, a competitive network protocol was available called Token Ring. What made Ethernet the winner in the long run were two factors; first, it worked, and second, instead of being a proprietary protocol (IBM was the primary supplier of Token Ring products), the developers of Ethernet gave the technology to the IEEE for free distribution to the world.

Maybe our industry’s manufacturers will see the light and use the potentially free availability of the high-performance H.264 compression format to standardize their devices so that they can work seamlessly with those from competitive vendors. Although our industry has a poor track record on this issue, security integrators and their clients can always hope for the future.

Web Site of the Month


See Estonia, Australia and other exotic locations through the video magic of Axis network cameras. At this Web site, many of Axis’ network cameras are hooked up for live viewing, allowing you to compare the quality and functionality of this line of IP video cameras.

Book of the Month

Enemy at the Water Cooler
by Brian Contos, Syngress

This tome receives a qualified endorsement, because large sections of the book detail a specific enterprise security management (ESM) software program called ArcSight. Those portions read more like an advertisement than an objective report.

That aside, this book contains many interesting, real-life case histories of attempted and successful network attacks by inside and outside “bad guys.” Taken as a whole, “Enemy” provides a detailed perspective on what CIOs and other IT personnel are faced with when considering their networks’ vulnerabilities to attacks.