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New mp3 Digital Audio Codec Announced by Thomson Multimedia Will Improve Sound Quality at Lower Bit Rates

PARIS, Jan. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- A new mp3 coding-decoding (codec) format that will provide improved sound at lower bit rates is now under development for implementation in mid 2001, Thomson Multimedia today announced. The new codec, dubbed "mp3PRO," provides 128kbs performance at a 64kbs encoding rate, nearly doubling the digital music capacity of typical flash memory. Using lower bit rates, mp3PRO will also offer Internet radio broadcasters the ability to lower their bandwidth costs while at the same time offering CD quality in the consumer preferred mp3 format.

mp3PRO is being developed by Coding Technologies, a company resulting from the cooperation between a Swedish company that specializes in audio compression technology and a spin-off from Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits. mp3PRO utilizes both Coding Technologies' proprietary codec enhancement technology and the pioneering work in the field of perceptual audio coding covered under the basic mp3 patents owned by Thomson and Fraunhofer. Currently, 100 companies license mp3 technology from Thomson and Fraunhofer under reasonable licensing terms that add less than $1 to the cost of a typical consumer mp3 player. More than one billion mp3 files are downloaded monthly by consumers with nearly 1 million portable players and 150 million PCs playing mp3 files worldwide.

"While the current mp3 format is quite acceptable, our goal is to never stand still, but to continue to modify the mp3 format to deliver even stronger audio performance," said Mark Redmond, Vice President, Worldwide Audio, Thomson Multimedia. "This enhancement to the very popular mp3 format not only improves sound quality, but compression rates as well."

mp3PRO offers compatibility to both mp3 content and players. Traditional mp3 content can be decoded by any mp3PRO player. Content coded in the mp3PRO format can be played back on any traditional mp3 player. However, to enjoy the quality enhancements of the new mp3PRO format, mp3PRO compatible players are required.

"Our unique enhancement technology and mp3 are an ideal match," said Martin Dietz, President of Coding Technologies. "The new mp3PRO offers significantly increased performance while maintaining the well established mp3 format. Free from compatibility problems, consumers will fully enjoy the substantial benefits of mp3PRO."

The new codec will first be implemented for Windows 98 and ME, Mac and Linux systems.

This press release contains forward-looking statements regarding prospects for the future that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Among the factors that could cause actual income to differ materially from those expected are the following: business conditions and general economic conditions; competitive factors such as pricing and marketing efforts of rival companies; timing of product introductions; ability of contract manufacturers to meet product price objectives and delivery schedules; legislative, regulatory, and industry initiatives that may affect planned or actual product features and marketing methods; and the pace and success of product research and development. For more information on the potential factors that could affect the company's financial income, please review the relevant SEC filings.

About Coding Technologies

Coding Technologies is focusing on developing and implementing unique audio compression technologies for the broadcasting, Internet and telecommunication markets. The company offers its audio solutions to system designers, chip/device manufacturers and content providers. Coding Technologies, a privately held company having offices in Stockholm, Sweden, and Nuremberg, Germany, combines the exceptional skills of a Swedish company specialized in audio compression technologies and a spin-off from the renowned Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits. For more information, visit www.codingtechnologies.de .

About Thomson Multimedia

With sales of 6.7 billion Euros (U.S. $ 6.5 billion) in 1999 and 55,000 employees in more than 30 countries, Thomson Multimedia (Paris Sicovam: 18453), provides a wide range of technologies, systems, finished products and services to consumers and professionals of the entertainment and media industries. To advance and enable the digital media transition, Thomson Multimedia has five principal activities: Displays and Components, Digital Media Solutions, Consumer Products, New Media Services, and Patents and Licensing. The company distributes its products under the popular THOMSON and RCA brand names. For more information: www.thomson-multimedia.com.

SOURCE: Thomson multimedia




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