"BRIDGE Details Satellite TV's MPEG-4 Moves The most-recent edition of The BRIDGE details the roll out of MPEG-4 to consumers, including what satellite TV companies plan to do with the technology. DirecTV and EchoStar's DISH Network are using MPEG-4 to deliver more high-def to customers, including local HD. DirecTV this past fall took the wraps off MPEG-4 set-top boxes that will connect users to local and national high-def programming, delivered via next-generation satellites the company launched in 2005. "By using MPEG-4 we achieve a higher compression ratio and increase the transmission efficiency of our transponders, and that enables us to deliver more HD programming," DirecTV's Robert Mercer tells the BRIDGE. He adds "MPEG-4 is not the entire story," given that DirecTV also is using AVC/DVB-S2 or Advanced Video Compression/Digital Video Broadcast Satellite 2 for delivery of additional HDTV. "Through this technology we're two to three times more efficient," Mercer says. DirecTV customers who want the next-generation equipment ahead of schedule - before the free replacement offer in their DMA is available and depending on where they live - can pay a reduced price of $99 for the system. MPEG-2 HD customers will continue to receive national HD signals using their existing equipment "for the foreseeable future," Mercer says. By 2007, all HD customers will be converted to MPEG-4 equipment, he adds. DirecTV has said it wants to deliver more than 1,500 local and more than 150 national HD channels and other advanced programming services to consumers nationwide sometime next year. "