Japan: SeaChange Launches H.264 HD IPTV

SeaChange International, an Acton, Mass.-based developer, manufacturer and marketer of digital video storage, management and streaming systems that automate the distribution of video content, is equipping OnDemand TV to ramp up the firm's IPTV VOD service offering HD encoded in the H.264 video compression standard.

Starting in July, fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) subs in the Tokyo and Osaka markets will have access to VOD libraries of HD movies, concerts and sports.

H.264, also known as MPEG-4 AVC (Advanced Video Coding), can enable operators to deliver HD streams in less than half the bandwidth required by MPEG-2 and other standards, over an array of network environments, including DSL and wireless.

Among its chief advantages, says SeaChange, is that H.264 will allow OnDemand TV to slash bandwidth usage to 8 Mbps for HD VOD. The OnDemand TV service (which has used other SeaChange IPTV systems for more than a year) will continue to deliver MPEG-2 streams for SD content, in conjunction with H.264-encoded HD choices, which include AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) surround sound.

SeaChange said the rapid development of broadband networks throughout Asia is spurring a range of telecom and cable providers to offer video services to attract new subs and capture a larger share of the growing pay-TV market, which is forecast to reach $32 billion by 2010. Japan's FTTH subs are projected to grow to 33 million in the same time frame (driven, in part, by the Japanese government's recent approval of HD retransmission via FTTH).