Arqiva To Launch HD Platform In July

Transmission network operator Arqiva will launch an HD platform for occasional-use broadcasting users this summer. The service will allow clients to distribute HD signals for sporting events, news and other occasional broadcasts using either MPEG-4 or MPEG-2 compression with DVD-S2 modulation to conserve bandwidth.

Simon Thrush, senior VP for Arqiva in the U.S. noted in an interview that the rapid transition to HD in the U.S. “convinced us that it was the right time to make the investment in a HD occasional-use platform.”

Arqiva will be one of the first broadcast service companies to offer MPEG-4 compression on an occasional-use-basis, according to Thrush.

When launched in July, the platform will be targeted at both international and U.S. clients.

The HD contribution and distribution platform is part of Arqiva’s ongoing U.S. expansion, where it already has Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles teleports.

The U.K. based company has an annual turnover of about $1.5 billion and over 1,700 employees. Last year, it completed a $48.8 million acquisition of British telco's BT's satellite broadcast business.

With ten teleports around the world, “we have the ability to take the signal pretty much anywhere in the world,” and are capable of transcoding the signals to handle the different U.S. and European standards for standard def and HD signals, Thrush said.

Arqiva is offering clients a choice between MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 compression but Thrush expects the transition to MPEG-4 to take a while.

“While MPEG-4 offers some clear bandwidth savings, it is a newer technology and there are a lot of legacy systems out there that are going to need new decoders or that will need to be reengineered,” he said. “I don’t expect any huge rush to MPEG-4 in the next six to twelve months. But we want to make certain we have it available for some customers who want to push the envelope.”

In some cases, “we may work with some of our larger clients to provide them with some of the decocder boxes in the field,” he added. That way they could get the bandwidth savings of transporting content in MPEG-4 but still be able to have the signal coded back to MPEG-2 for their existing networks.