DirecTV has selected encoding technology from Tandberg Television to fuel a migration to the MPEG-4 AVC video codec. It's expected that the DBS provider will initially use the more efficient compression technology to support a wide range of bandwidth-intensive HDTV services.
Tandberg, which valued the deal at more than $9 million, said it will commission the first of 26 HD-capable MPEG-4 AVC transponders this summer. Tandberg is supplying its EN5990 HD encoder and 1+1 HD multiplexing system. DirecTV plans to install Tandberg's encoding systems at broadcast hubs based in Los Angeles and Castle Rock, Colo.
The use of MPEG-4 AVC will give DirecTV much needed bandwidth efficiencies as it prepares to rollout a massive number of HDTV channels. Last September, DirecTV announced it would expand its HD capacity by hundreds of HDTV channels by tapping a handful of new satellites. The first, Spaceway 1 and Spaceway 2, are set to launch later this year. The DirecTV 10 and DirecTV 11 birds are scheduled to go up in early 2007.
Similarly, EchoStar Communications has plans to migrate to MPEG-4, and offer the technology initially to HDTV subscribers. EchoStar has yet to name an MPEG-4 encoding partner.