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Some have it straight

Developing standards is one of the greatest endeavours humans can do for their fellow humans. A well conceived and rightly implemented standard is the lubricant that makes society more efficient. Communication standards are even more valuable because they enhance the most powerful feature of humans to do things with other humans in a coordinated way.

In the 20th century public authorities and entrepreneurs vied in inventing new ways to communicate within a community to the exclusion of others. My best example is ITU-R Recommendation 624 “Television systems” where minuscule and large countries alike compete in adding footnotes stating that they reserve the right to adopt different frequency tolerances and the like.

MPEG was born in 1988 in reaction to the balkanised state of analogue media standards and to the attempts by countries and companies to carry over the analogue media paradigm to digital media.

The rest is history. MPEG standards have universal coverage, a result achieved without the intervention of public authorities because companies were convinced that a global market was not only larger than the sum of individual markets but also more efficient. Consumers reaped the benefits.

The reality of today, however, is that the MPEG model is not adopted in all markets and there is an interest on the part of some powerful parties to make the MPEG model a temporary exception to the rule, starting with “Nothing will change”.

If this will happen, it will not be because people have lost faith in the MPEG model, but because of ferocious arm-twisting behind the scenes.

Some people have a straight back and some have not. Some others get it only too well. Others simply don’t get it.

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