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Starz Aligns with Motorola for HD Compression

Starz Entertainment has selected advanced compression gear from Motorola to support the launch of new high-definition services Starz Comedy, Starz Edge and Starz Kids & Family.

Starz is buying a Motorola four-channel, high-definition (HD) MPEG-2 encoding system that will compress, encrypt, and modulate the HD signals within a single integrated transmission system. The new HD system is designed to support Starz’s planned future migration to MPEG-4 compression technology, and will use MPEG-4 AVC technology originally developed by Modulus Video, which Motorola acquired in May and integrated into its Home & Network Mobility Group. Competing premium programmer HBO has already committed to the Motorola MPEG-4 technology for making all 26 of its channels available in HD by mid-2008.

A key piece of Starz's new content delivery chain is Motorola’s new DSR4410MD multi-program demodulator/decryptor, which receives DVB-S2 modulated signals and can decrypt up to 64 services from a single MPEG-2 transport stream. Testing with STARZ signals has shown reliable transmission at 77.5 Mbps using a 36 MHz, C-Band satellite transponder – which translates into four-to-five MPEG-2 HD streams or as many as 10 MPEG-4/AVC HD streams per transponder.

"We were very pleased with the quality and efficiency offered by Motorola’s new modular uplink system," said Ray Milius, senior vice president, programming operations for Starz Entertainment, in a statement. "Both the MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 HD encoders interfaced seamlessly with the access control and transmission system in use today, so adding current and future HD services is very straightforward.”