By James Wells

SYDNEY: French communication company, Sagem Australia, is celebrating Bastille Day with the launch of a world-first set top box which is capable of receiving high definition television using four broadcast technologies.

The mpeg4 set-top box can receive High Definition television, using the four existing broadcast technologies: internet protocol (IP), satellite, terrestrial and cable.

Mpeg 4 files are smaller than mpeg 2 files and are designed to transmit video and images over a narrow bandwidth.

Sagem Australia Residential Terminal and Digital TV manager Adrian Tamplin, told that although digital broadcasts in Australia are currently in mpeg2 format and mpeg4 set top boxes are not sold locally, the company sees this announcement as an example of its capability to deliver products compatible with future communications technology.

Tamplin confirmed the company is discussing the future of digital broadcasting and internet telephony with the major telecommunications companies in Australia.

“Sagem commenced manufacturing set top boxes in 1989 by manufacturing analog decoders with digital conditional access, followed by its first digital set-top boxes in 1996,” Tamplin said.

“Today, Sagem Communication is Europe’s leading set top box manufacturer for digital terrestrial and internet protocol television, thanks to a wide range of products, from basic low-end boxes with limited functionality – also known as ‘zapper’ boxes – to advanced twin-tuner digital TV receivers with integrated hard disk drive or personal video recorders.

According to Sagem, this year the company has supplied more than 500,000 mpeg4 set top boxes, including 100,000 mpeg4 high definition set top boxes to various French and European operators.