Wednesday, January 5, 2005

DIRECTV Demonstrates MPEG-4 AVC HD via Satellite

DIRECTV has demonstrated the first live MPEG-4 AVC/DVB-S2 high-definition (HD) transmission via satellite. DIRECTV plans to use the encoding technology to expand its video offer by launching hundreds of local and national HD channels later this year and in 2007. The demonstration used equipment from Tandberg, Radyne/Comstream, Conexant, Broadcom and ST Microelectronics.

MPEG-4 AVC/DVB-S2 significantly reduces the amount of bandwidth required to deliver HD via satellite. DIRECTV will continue to use MPEG-2 for standard definition broadcasts and will eventually convert all existing HD customers to the new technology introduced today.

"This is the most advanced transmission in the world, mapping out a bold new path for the delivery of HDTV via satellite to every consumer in America," said Romulo Pontual, executive vice president and CTO, The DIRECTV Group. "

DIRECTV announced last September plans for a dramatic expansion of local and national HD programming over the next two years via four new Ka-band satellites to support the carriage of 1,500 local and 150 CONUS HDTV channels plus other enhanced services. The satellites are now under construction and two will be launched early this year.

  • In September 2004, DIRECTV announced the planned launch of four new next-generation satellites aimed at significantly expanding its programming capacity in local and national high-definition (HD) channels, as well as capacity for new interactive and enhanced services and standard-definition programming.

  • The first two of these satellites, Spaceway 1 and Spaceway 2, will launch in 2005 with programming being offered to consumers by the middle of the year. These satellites will have the capacity for more than 500 local HD channels. With these satellites, DIRECTV will have the ability to bring local HD programming to most of the U.S. population, as well as continuing to expand standard-definition local offerings and other enhancements.

  • The next two satellites, DIRECTV 10 and DIRECTV 11, will launch in early 2007. These satellites will have the capacity for more than 1,000 additional local HD channels, more than 150 national HD channels, and other new programming offerings. These satellites will provide DIRECTV the capability to bring local and national HD programming and other advanced services to every U.S. household. Consumers will be able to receive all of these services, as well as existing DIRECTV(R) programming, with a single small satellite dish.

  • DIRECTV 10 and DIRECTV 11, to be built by Boeing, will be among the largest and most powerful Ka-band satellites ever launched. The satellites, which will take advantage of DIRECTV's advanced transmission techniques and state-of-the-art video compression technology, will deliver national HD programming and will be capable of supporting spot beams carrying local HD broadcast channels in all 50 states. Boeing will also build a third satellite for DIRECTV that will serve as a ground spare.

  • The Spaceway 1 and Spaceway 2 satellites, also being built by Boeing, are approaching completion and the satellites were recently converted to be capable of offering both video and a broadband Internet service. Boeing is also constructing a third Spaceway satellite. "Today's announcement is one of the most significant in the history of DIRECTV. We are reinforcing our commitment to best serve our customers with the most attractive and compelling array of programming services available," said Mitch Stern, president and CEO, DIRECTV.


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