Tandberg Targets Cable's HD Lineups


Tandberg Television introduced a video transcoder that lets cable operators receive MPEG-4 high-definition programming feeds and distribute them in the older MPEG-2 format.

The company's RX8250, to be available commercially in the first quarter of 2009, allows programmers to distribute six to eight MPEG-4 AVC HD channels on a satellite transponder -- roughly twice the number as with legacy MPEG-2 -- while allowing cable operators to efficiently convert the video for distribution to their installed base of MPEG-2 set-tops.

Some programmers, including HBO and Starz Entertainment, are offering new HD channels only in MPEG-4 format, requiring their cable affiliates to perform such conversion at the headend. Motorola and Cisco Systems also offer MPEG-4-to-MPEG-2 integrated transcoders for the cable industry.

“The RX8250 completes an end-to-end HD cable distribution solution that changes the economics of HD program distribution and enables programmers to add a significant number of new HD channels to their lineups,” said Lisa Hobbs, Tandberg's vice president of business development for satellite and broadcast.

The RX8250 HD program transcoder also performs HD-to-SD downconversion to generate analog video and audio outputs with automatic picture aspect ratio conversion and signaling via active format description (AFD).

In addition, the device supports MPEG-4 AVC HD output into the cable network, giving operators the option to introduce MPEG-4-based set-top boxes at some point in the future.

Tandberg, a subsidiary of Ericsson, sells video compression, video-on-demand and content distribution systems. The company is introducing the RX8250 program transcoder at the HD World Conference and Exposition this week in New York.