H.263 is a video compression standard originally designed as a low-bitrate compressed format for videoconferencing. It was developed by the ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) in a project ending in 1995/1996 as one member of the H.26x family of video coding standards in the domain of the ITU-T.
H.263 has since found many applications on the internet: much Flash Video content (as used on sites such as YouTube, Google Video, MySpace, etc.) used to be encoded in Sorenson Spark format (an incomplete implementation of H.263), though many sites now use VP6 or H.264 encoding. The original version of the RealVideo codec was based on H.263 up until the release of RealVideo 8.
H.263 is a required video codec in ETSI 3GPP technical specifications for IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) and Transparent end-to-end Packet-switched Streaming Service (PSS). In 3GPP specifications, H.263 video is usually used in 3GP container format.
The codec was first designed to be utilized in H.324 based systems (PSTN and other circuit-switched network videoconferencing and videotelephony), but has since also found use in H.323 (RTP/IP-based videoconferencing), H.320 (ISDN-based videoconferencing), RTSP (streaming media) and SIP (Internet conferencing) solutions.
H.263 was developed as an evolutionary improvement based on experience from H.261, the previous ITU-T standard for video compression, and the MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 standards. Its first version was completed in 1995 and provided a suitable replacement for H.261 at all bitrates. It was further enhanced in projects known as H.263v2 (also known as H.263+ or H.263 1998), MPEG-4 Part 2 and H.263v3 (also known as H.263++ or H.263 2000). MPEG-4 Part 2 is H.263 compatible in the sense that a basic H.263 bitstream is correctly decoded by an MPEG-4 Video decoder.
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