PARIS Seeking to deliver TV programming over ADSL, Thomson said it is participating in two key video-over-ADSL projects recently launched by TF1 group and Monaco Telecom.
Both trials represent the first large-scale video-over-DSL projects in France, said a Thomson official.
The TF1 group trial will offer 24 TV channels over the ADSL network to 200 households in Boulogne Billancourt suburb of Paris and the 15th arrondissement of Paris. Meanwhile, the ADSL project with Monaco Telecom will provide 300 Monaco residents access to a library of movies via their TV sets in addition to high-speed Internet services. The new video-on-demand project over ADSL will allow Monaco Telecom to reach television viewers who do not own PCs, thus substantially expanding its subscriber base, according to Thomson.
The particating companies hope to sort out both technical and business issues through the trials, the Thomson official said. Key technical issues include "network contentions," or whether all users can access programming at the same time, and "statistical problems" such as identifying the actual bandwidth offered by installed ADSL.
In France, 70 percent of the ADSL lines installed should be able to provide 4 Mbits/second, he said. "We would like to test if that's the case."
In both trials, Paris-based Thomson is supplying a range of digital video products including real-time MPEG-2 encoders developed by Nextream, a joint venture between Alcatel and Thomson and ADSL modems and set-tops by Thomson.
The key enabler for broadcasting TV content over ADSL is the Nextream-developed real-time MPEG2 encoder capable of the low bit-rate compression. The new encoder allows operators to distribute video programs over ADSL in a quality "equivalent to that of satellite transmission" while reducing the bandwidth requirement down to a bit rate below 2.5 Mbps, Thomson said.
In order to reduce the bit rate, the Nextream encoder powered by chips originally designed by Thomson offers abundant pre-processing of images. Meanwhile, the encoder also provides real-time, double-pass encoding to boost the encoded video quality.
One million households, out of 20 million total French households in total, currently subscribe to ADSL services. The substantial growth of ADSL networks, particularly over the last two years, is whetting onsumers' appetites for high-speed Internet services. Thomson hopes to build its position on the European market as a provider of video over high-speed networks.
In countries where the cable TV penetration is far lower than the United States, delivering TV programs or video-on-demand services via TV sets over ADSL represents a new market opportunity for both telephone companies and equipment vendors.