Imagine Communications has upgraded both its ICE Broadcast System and its Next transcoder.

The ICE Broadcast System (IBS) was formerly capable of HD 3:1; it is now capable of HD 4:1 – four 1080 HD services in a 256 QAM channel. The Next upgrade integrates the existing transcoding, packaging and streaming capability with an integrated origin server and storage interoperability for Catch-Up TV and network PVR.

The IBS v4.5 upgrade incorporates compression techniques with enhanced treatment of text and tickers, where compression artifacts can be most visible, the company said. The move to 4:1 HD compression can translate to a 33 percent gain in network bandwidth.

"By focusing both on the entire picture, as well as the parts of the image most prone to noticeable distortion, we found the key to unlocking 4:1 HD quality," said Ron Gutman, Imagine CTO and founder.

"Our goal for 4:1 is that any compressed content is equal or better quality than the received source 99 percent of the time. You can't compress to 4:1 without allocating more bits to special features, and we've determined the features that matter to the human visual system including faces, face edges, text and scrolling tickers."

The Next Dense Transcoder still supports 320 HD or 640 SD multiscreen profiles per server, less than 2 watts per stream and 100 percent system redundancy. With the next: v1.1 SW upgrade, service providers can now deploy a single 2U server that not only transcodes, packages and encrypts hundreds of multiscreen services, but also stores those programs for 7 days of Catch-Up TV and also acts as an origin server.

"We continue to leverage our unique hybrid hardware/software architecture to extend the capability of our dense transcoding system, and time-shifted viewing is both the logical and most often-requested capability," said Chris Gordon, Imagine VP of product marketing. "What really makes this solution work for our operator customers is the marriage of our advanced platform engineering with our network of mature ecosystem partners. We realize that creating truly differentiated solutions requires not only great systems technology but great partnerships, and are excited about the ecosystem developing around our next: Dense Transcoding platform."