AT&T is to continue growing its high-definition channel line-up in the US with the help of increasingly efficient MPEG-4 compression.

The telco’s U-verse TV service currently delivers MPEG-4 video in the range of 6 to 8 Megabits per second.

The use of improved video compression will allow that to be reduced to 5 Mbps, with the expectation that further improvements are likely.

Earlier this month, AT&T launched Total Home DVR, initially in San Francisco, which lets U-verse TV deliver five simultaneous HD streams: two live and three from the DVR.

John Donovan, AT&T’s CTO, said efficiency gains would allow it to support more simultaneous IPTV streams, upping the live HD streams to three and the recorded HD streams to four in 2009.

MPEG-4 equipment is allowing IPTV service providers some help against their cable TV competitors, who mostly use MPEG-2 compression.

Speaking at an investment conference, Donovan noted that video now exceeds 40 per cent of AT&T’s total IP backbone traffic whereas three years ago it was negligible.

“If you download one HD video movie, it’s the equivalent of 35,000 rich-content web pages, or 2,000 songs,” he said. “So it’s very, very dramatic.”

The growth in broadband data is driving the telco’s content-distribution network services, which replicate Internet content.
AT&T will invest $70 million this year tripling CDN storage and server capacity, according to Donovan.

Subscribe to our Newsletter