NBC Universal Taps Tandberg

NBC Universal has deployed video-compression systems from Tandberg Television to distribute its cable networks, in both standard- and high-definition formats.

The programmer is distributing its cable HD channels with the Tandberg gear, including Bravo HD, USA Network HD, Sci-Fi Channel HD and CNBC HD. Tandberg also provides the encoding equipment used by NBC and Telemundo networks to distribute their standard-definition services.

“We benefit from a longstanding relationship with Tandberg Television and value their innovative solutions, which impact how content providers can more effectively distribute programming,” NBC Universal vice president of distribution technology media works Larry Thaler said in a statement.

NBCU has used equipment from Motorola, which will continue to be used for the SD cable channels.

The programmer picked Tandberg equipment because “NBC wanted to push the technological envelope on cable-distribution technology,” NBCU vice president of corporate communications Hilary Smith said.

Specifically, she said, NBCU wanted to take advantage of the Tandberg systems' support for the DVB-S2 8PSK satellite-transmission modulation standard. DVB-S2 is designed to increase the throughput of a satellite transponder while maintaining downlink margins. According to Tandberg, its proprietary Prekor technology further optimizes DVB-S2 8PSK modulation by “precorrecting” for distortions that can reduce the maximum transmitted bit rate.

Smith said NBCU is the first cable network in the United States to transmit in DVB-S2, which provides about 30% more capacity on a satellite than using traditional modulation. “Tandberg provided the best gear for this application and significant service to back it up,” she added.

From Tandberg's perspective, the deal with NBCU — its first with a U.S.-based cable programmer — reflects the opportunity to win new accounts as networks move to HD. “The last time anyone bought stuff was 10 years ago when everyone went to MPEG-2,” Tandberg VP of technology for compression systems Matt Goldman said.

NBC Universal also deployed a Tandberg system that includes MPEG-2 HD multiplexes as well as Tandberg's Director network-management and receiver-control system.

In addition, Tandberg provided NBC Universal a managed service for deploying integrated receiver/decoders and a multiservice decryptor that is integrated with the Director system.

The service provides IRD warehousing, testing, packaging, shipping and installation assistance. With the service, Tandberg handles the entire authorization process, from initial testing through to final operational performance at the receive location.