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Tandberg Nets DirecTV Deal For MPEG-4

Tandberg Television announced Thursday at HD World in New York that DirecTV will use Tandberg MPEG-4 encoders to backhaul HD broadcast signals at local collection facilities as it expands its carriage of HD local signals into new markets.

The deal is a significant win for Tandberg, which initially supplied MPEG-4 encoders to DirecTV but has seen the satellite giant move to Harmonic MPEG-4 gear for much of its recent HD expansion.

DirecTV currently carries HD signals from 100 local US markets, representing more than 83% of US TV households, and plans to carry local HD broadcast channels from over 121 cities by year-end. It will use Tandberg MPEG-4 systems in the new markets, including the newly released EN8095 encoder. The EN8095 features IP statistical multiplexing; 8-VSB input, suitable for capturing local ATSC broadcast signals; and control of up to three different outputs (MPEG-4 AVC HD/SD and MPEG-2 SD). 

"We started our HD MPEG-4 AVC journey with Tandberg Television and consequently, we were the first to market, quickly deploying ahead of our competitors,” said Hanno Basse, Vice President of Broadcast Systems Engineering for DirecTV, in a statement. “We are pleased to continue our association with Tandberg Television as we move into the next stage of HD expansion."

Tandberg also introduced at HD World a new MPEG-4 transcoding product aimed at cable programmers who want to take advantage of MPEG-4’s bandwidth savings when distributing their content via satellite but need to convert the MPEG-4 signals to MPEG-2 to pass through the legacy cable plant. Competitor Motorola has already supplied such a backward-compatible solution to pay-TV networks HBO and Starz to drive their HD expansion.

The company’s new RX8250 program transcoder is designed to receive an MPEG-4 satellite feed and decode it to baseband HD, then re-encode it in MPEG-2. The product, which will be available in the first quarter of next year, also performs HD to SD down-conversion to generate analog video and audio outputs in order to provide compatibility with both digital and analog tiers. It offers automatic picture aspect ratio conversion and signaling via active format description (AFD) to ensure that widescreen HD video is correctly displayed when down-converted to 4:3 video.