HBO announced in June that it’s in the process of upgrading all of its 26 channels to HD. Today the official announcement came out that Motorola is the one providing the encoding system to make that happen.
The new encoding system for HBO uses a multi-format integrated receiver/decoder. Multiformat so HBO can use both MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 compression. As Glenn Dickson over at Broadcasting and Cable succinctly points out, MPEG-4 works for satellite operators with MPEG-4 set-tops, but not so much for cable operators who still use MPEG-2 set-tops.
Until now, Motorola has provided MPEG-2 encoders for HBO’s two existing HD channels. The step up to MPEG-4 is just that, a step up. MPEG-4 is going to gain significant importance in the coming years as operators feel the bandwidth crunch.
One history note: Just as HBO was the first to launch a high-definition feed (according to the press release), Motorola was first with an operational all-digital HDTV system in 1991. The first all-digital HDTV transmissions went out using Motorola’s technology in 1992.