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NEL Profits From New Encoders

NEL America’s launch earlier this year of the world’s first encoders and decoders to support AVC/H.264 High 4:2:2 Profile capabilities has been helping the company expand its presence in a very crowded and competitive U.S. market, according to Peggy Barham, NEL America vice president of sales.

The encoder/decoders in NEL’s HV9100 series with the 4:2:2 color sampling capabilities have already been deployed by a major U.S. broadcaster and a large Canadian broadcaster for sporting events in North America, Barham said. They were also widely used in Europe for the live transmissions of Olympics.

Confidentiality agreements prevented her from mentioning specific broadcast channels and companies.

A key advantage of NEL’s HV9100 series product line is that it supports 4:2:2 for AVC/H.264 compression. The 4:2:2 profile allows the HV9100 series to increase bandwidth without losing visual quality. As a result of using the profile, the encoder offers more color data and a higher picture quality that is particularly attractive for the transmission of sports and other programming with a lot of action and movement.

“It has really stirred up a lot of interest” among broadcasters and multichannel providers, Barham said. “No one else has announced a product like this.”

Barham was unable to discuss a number of deals already concluded but the encoders high bit rate, low latency and ability to produce high quality images for sports, recently convinced public broadcaster ORF in Austria to acquire the encoders from NEL’s parent NTT Electronics. ORF deployed the encoders for its HD sports broadcasts this summer.

NTT Electronics has also announced sales of the HVE9100 encoder and HVD9100 decoder to Tokyo Broadcasting System in Japan.

NEL America operates in North America. Parent company NTT Electronics sells equipment and service globally and is part of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, which in the dominant telco in Japan.

“We draw on a huge R&D infrastructure and resources that are very similar to what Bell Labs used to be,” said Barham.

NTT is the dominant provider of encoders/decoders and many other types of equipment in Japan but quickly realized it would face problems trying to crack the U.S. encoder/decoder marketplace, which is has a number of established players.

“To come in strong and really make a statement, we realized we needed have a breakthrough product,” Barham said. That led to the development and introduction earlier this year of the HV9100 series.

Since then, having the only H.264 encoders and decoders with 4:2:2 capabilities “has stirred a lot of interest among the big guys [who are producing] any kind of high action HD broadcast,” she said.