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HBO Opens T-VIPS Video Gateways

Norweigan Vendor Helps Premium Net Ship Content Coast to Coast

by George Winslow -- Multichannel News, 5/13/2009 2:47:46 PM

HBO has acquired video gateways from the Norwegian vendor T-VIPS AS to transport high-definition programming from its New York City studios to the HBO Communications Center.

The T-VIPS TVG430 video gateways also allows HBO editors based in California to edit programming produced in the premium channel network's New York studios, according to T-VIPS' CEO Johnny Dolvik.

The deal is notable because T-VIPS uses the JPEG2000 compression format for transmitting HD content over an Internet-protocol network, rather than via MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 compression formats.

By using a Gigabit Ethernet link, HBO was "able to achieve cost savings," Dolvik noted, adding that the JPEG2000 compression format allows it to send higher-quality content with fewer transmission delays. "The low latency means that you can have people in Santa Monica doing editing on stuff that is happening in studios in New York," Dolvik said.

For HBO and other clients, JPEG2000 has proven to have a number of advantages over MPEG formats for video-signal transport, Dolvik said. MPEG signals that are repeatedly encoded and decoded have much poorer image quality than JPEG2000 signals, and JPEG2000 does a significantly better job of error correction. In addition, the latency for JPEG2000 signals is about 120 milliseconds, compared with as much as two to four seconds for MPEG.

A downside to JPEG2000 is that it requires significantly more bandwidth than MPEG. This isn't a major problem for sending content over IP networks, in which bandwidth has become much less expensive, but it is a significant issue for "the last mile" connection into homes where bandwidth is often extremely limited.

"Over the last 15 years, MPEG has been optimized to conserve bandwidth and for the last mile MPEG will remain the dominant format," Dolvik said. "With MPEG you can deal with less bandwidth, but you don't get the same quality and you have to deal with a lot of other issues. For contribution, in the professional domain, JPEG2000 over IP offers significant advantages in terms of video quality."

Interest in JPEG2000 has grown faster in Europe, where IP networks are more widely used, Dolvik said. The BBC, leading Norweigan broadcaster Norkring AS and ORF, the Austrian public broadcaster, are among those using the compression format.

ORF, for example, recently launched the world's first 1080p/50 HD video contribution network using T-VIPS' JPEG2000 system to move 3Gps video between nine regional studios in Austria and the broadcasters headquarters in Vienna.

In the U.S., HBO, News 12 Long Island, and a major MSO have been transmitting content using T-VIPS equipment and the JPEG2000 compression format, Dolvik said.

"In the beginning, people were skeptical because they were used to MPEG," Dolvik said. "But both larger and smaller organizations are starting to use JPEG2000. JPEG2000 has a history of coming from the digital cinema guys who had been using it for film and now people are realizing that if it is good enough for film, it is good enough for TV."
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