Imagine Debut Product Boasts 50 Percent Increase in Cable HD Capacity

Imagine Communications, a San-Diego-based company founded in 2005, announced its first available product, the ICE (Interchangeable Compressed Elements) broadcast system, which the company claims gives cable operators the ability to carry up to 50 percent more high definition (HDTV) and standard definition (SDTV) digital broadcast signals within their digital broadcast spectrum, without sacrificing video quality.

It's based on the company's ICE Video Platform, which is comprised of a suite of solutions and products for digital broadcast, switched digital video (SDV) and VOD, using the ICE and video quality measurement (ICE-Q) technology to address the video quality and bandwidth efficiency needs of cable operators.

"With competitors announcing plans for over 100 HD channels, and video quality expectations simultaneously rising, due primarily to the mass consumer adoption of large screen HDTV displays and the growing popularity of Blu-ray and HD-DVD, all service providers are now racing to create additional bandwidth to carry dozens of new HDTV services at excellent video quality," said Lorenzo Bombelli, Imagine vice president for product strategy and management. "It became an urgent cable industry issue to quickly adapt our technology for the digital broadcast market, for both HD and SD applications."

"Our core breakthrough technology has broad applicability to any digital video application," said Ron Gutman, Imagine chief technology officer and co-founder. "While we've mostly associated ourselves to date with SDV and VOD VBR/StatMux (variable bit-rate/statistical multiplexing), for enabling the best video quality at any given bit-rate, the same benefits apply to digital broadcast, and we're excited to be offering a product that solves such a critical and timely issue for cable operators."

The ICE broadcast system consists of ICE broadcast processors, which accept and re-process compressed MPEG-2 digital signals using Imagine's ICE-Q algorithms. Then, using the ICE multiplexer, these signals are statistically multiplexed for multiple program transport stream (MPTS) digital broadcast over cable. In this fashion, for the first time, cable operators are able to broadcast three digital HDTV or 15 digital SDTV signals in a 256 QAM channel while maintaining excellent video quality, the company said.

Imagine made the announcement at the SCTE Conference on Emerging Technologies in Los Angeles.