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IBC 2009: Tandberg Unveils Next-Generation MPEG-4 Gear

IBC Amsterdam 2009: Complete Coverage of the IBC Show

Ericsson unit Tandberg Television introduced at IBC new MPEG-4 encoding products aimed at both backhauling high-definition signals and distributing them directly to consumers.

According to Tandberg VP of technology Matthew Goldman, Tandberg is the only vendor to provide a complete MPEG-4 AVC HD 4:2:2 system solution for the C&D (Contribution and Distribution) market, i.e. either backhauling signals from live events or distributing high-quality mezzanine feeds to cable headends which will then be re-compressed for delivery to the home. It was demonstrating the system in its joint Tandberg/Ericsson booth.

The new MPEG-4 4:2:2 system, which uses 10-bit video processing for improved color gradation, supports HD encoding up to the 1080p/60 format. It includes the existing Tandberg RX8200 receiver, which can be upgraded to support 4:2:2 10-bit encoding through a software option. Goldman expects the 4:2:2 system will eventually be used to backhaul feeds produced in the 1080p/60 format at bit-rates ranging from 20 to 80 Mbps.

"That's in the sweet spot that JPEG2000 can't hit," says Goldman.

Tandberg also introduced the EN8190 HD encoder, an MPEG-4 4:2:0 product aimed at direct-to-home (DTH) satellite applications as well as the IPTV market. Goldman says the EN8190 represents a 20-25% improvement in bit-rate efficiency over the company's previous MPEG-4 4:2:0 model, enough for a DTH operator to add one more HD channel per satellite transponder. Tandberg was demonstrating the EN8190 delivering six HD channels in 30 Mbps of bandwidth using its statistical multiplexing technology.

In another part of its booth, Tandberg was explaining how its OpenStream VOD management system can be used today to support multi-platform delivery. The demonstration showed how a VOD movie that was being delivered to a basic Motorola DCT-2000 set-top box could be paused, with the movie then being restarted as streaming video delivered to an Apple iPhone over a Wi-Fi link.

Tandberg VP of applications software strategy Michael Adams says the company will give a more in-depth demonstration of OpenStream's multiplatform capabilities at the SCTE show in Denver next month. He says the streaming form of VOD could be delivered just as easily over a wireless 3G network as over a Wi-Fi link.

"That's just a plumbing issue," says Adams, who expects that Tandberg will be involved in a commercial deployment of such multi-platform delivery by early next year.