Euro1080 Announces Service Additions, MPEG-4 Transmission

February 2, 2005
You read it here last week: Euro 1080 will pioneer MPEG-4, Part 10 coding for HDTV signals in Europe beginning in June 2005. Euro1080 is currently the only HDTV service available in Europe, broadcasting via DBS and now using MPEG-2 coding. It currently has a single channel of service called The Main Channel, which will be renamed HD1.

Euro1080 will launch two new channels, HD2 and HD5, in June. HD1 will focus on "prime content" broadcast between 8 p.m. and midnight, and repeated five times during the rest of the day, as a pay service. HD2 will specialize in special events, many live-- intended to be received in pubs and large venues as well as homes--and will be either free or pay-per-event. HD5 will broadcast demonstration HD content for consumer electronics stores, for example. We are unable to determine what might have happened to HD3 and HD4.

HD1 and HD2 will be broadcast using MPEG-4 (Part 10) coding beginning in June, with simultaneous MPEG-2 coding guaranteed to legacy subscribers until 2008. MPEG-4 is the most recently adopted Advanced Video Coding (AVC) technology. It uses the same fundamental approach as its forbear MPEG-2, but has a number of advanced features, including advanced entropy coding, that permits it to deliver decoded video images of quality equivalent to those coded using MPEG-2 at a data rate as low as half the MPEG-2 rate. A number of European HDTV services using various delivery media have been announced to launch in 2005 and 2006 in Germany, France, and the U.K., and all have announced their intentions to use MPEG-4 coding. Here in the United States DirecTV has announced its intention to eventually move all its HDTV content to MPEG 4 coding as well.

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