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January 29, 1998

HARRIS AND LUCENT TEAM UP OVER DIGITAL TV ENCODERS

By CBR Staff Writer

Harris Corp’s broadcast division has announced that it has signed an exclusive deal to market Lucent Technologies MPEG-2 encoders, designed to enable broadcasters to transmit digital TV signals. The boxes conform to the American ATSC, advanced television systems committee, multi-channel and multi-format standards for digital TV and will be marketed under the Harris Flexicoder brand name. Harris says it has been working with Lucent’s Bell Labs division to develop the technology and that its box is the first on the market to support all pixel resolutions, including both HDTV high definition formats; 1920×1080 and 1280×720, as well as the standard digital 704×480 pixel resolution. Jay Adrick, vice president of broadcast systems at Harris says there is a large market for the devices and claims demand is very high. The US Federal Communications Commission has mandated television stations to implement digital TV with a total of 1693 stations required to start broadcasting in digital between November 1998 and May 2003, with each broadcaster expected to require at least two boxes. Adrick says he expects competition to come from the likes of General Instrument Corp and Sony Corp (CI No 3,319), Swedish company Digital Vision and SGS Thompson. Boxes range in price between $90,000 and $490,000 depending on options such as the number of channels, redundancy features and whether the encoders are single or multiple format, but Adrick says he expects most broadcasters will opt for the high end option. The company says it has signed deals with four regional US broadcasters and will begin shipping product in February. Adrick says the company is also working on developing a microwave studio to transmitter link for the same market but refused to be drawn on details.

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