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DirecTV Selects MPEG-4 System

El Segundo, Calif. — Direct-to-home (DTH) satellite television operator DirecTV has selected Tandberg Television’s high-definition MPEG-4 AVC advanced compression technology in a deal valued at more than $9 million, the companies said.

DirecTV will commission the first of 26 MPEG-4 AVC HD-enabled transponders in the summer of 2005. It is expected to be the first North American launch of advanced HD encoding technology by a DTH satellite provider.

Previously, DirecTV had announced it will launch four new satellites over the next three years to vastly increase the number of local and national HD channels it carries.

The first two satellites, Spaceway 1 and Spaceway 2, will launch in 2005 with the capacity for more than 500 local HD channels.

The next two satellites, DirecTV 10 and DirecTV 11, will launch in 2007 with the capacity for an additional 1,000 local HD channels, more than 150 national HD channels and other new programming offerings.

The delivery of the compression system in the first half of the year will enable DirecTV to meet its announced goal of launching new HD services to consumers in the second half of 2005.

Each fully redundant system will feature the Tandberg EN5990, a real-time HD encoder for MPEG-4 AVC and a Tandberg 1+1 HD multiplexing system.

The EN5990 has been designed to operate in real-time TV delivery environments and guarantees no frame dropping. Key features include extensive video preprocessing for noise reduction and horizontal picture resolution resizing.

The Tandberg EN5990 is based on the company’s HD ICE platform, an array of high-end, general purpose DSPs (digital signal processors) and FPGAs (field programmable gate arrays.) The HD ICE platform is also the basis of Tandberg’s EN5980 Windows Media 9 HD encoder.

The multiplexes will combine the MPEG-4 AVC encoded HD channels into one bandwidth efficient stream for transmission over satellite.

With the launch of the new services, DIRECTV will have the ability to bring local HD programming to most of the U.S. population.