ESPN 3D, the cable network carrying 3D coverage of the World Cup in the U.S., is available to cable operators via both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 compression. MPEG-4 is significantly more bandwidth-efficient than MPEG-2. and according to Cable360, Comcast customers who want 3D programming will have to use MPEG-4 compatible set-top boxes starting in August. Comcast has approximately 10 million MPEG-4 set-top boxes in the field, and 25 million set-top boxes that only support MPEG-2.
Most of Comcast's MPEG-4 set-top boxes are from Motorola, but the company is said to have chosen Pace to supply its next-generation set-top boxes. The Pace STBs will support MPEG-4 H.264 compression and Tru2Way applications, and they may be compatible with Switched Digital Video (SDV) services. Comcast's choice of Pace will have a major impact on both Motorola and Cisco in the U.S. market. Pace has been very strong everywhere but the U.S., but supplying the largest video service provider in the U.S. will dramatically increase its presence and shake up the market.