VOOM to Expand HDTV Capacity, Use Advanced Coding

Rainbow Media announced that its DBS service VOOM would expand its HDTV offering from 40 to 70 channels, and its SD channel offering to 200. The VOOM HD channel offering includes a number of exclusive HDTV channels showing movies, concerts, animated programs and sports.

In addition to expanding the number of satellite transponders it employs, VOOM said that it plans to implement MPEG-4 (presumably Part 10, also known as H.264 advanced coding). MPEG-4, Part 10 is a more efficient coding scheme than currently used MPEG-2, which would facilitate the carriage of more programming within a given amount of satellite bandwidth. VOOM notes that its set-top boxes are already outfitted to decode MPEG-4.

The VOOM strategy from the outset has been to offer a large amount of HDTV programming. During its first year in operation, it has signed up fewer than 50,000 subscribers. These announcements of increased capacity and advanced coding coincided with the Consumer Electronics Show, but they occur just a few weeks after a story appeared in the New York Times that reported that Rainbow Media is seeking a buyer for the DBS service.