Home > Articles > Cisco Network Technology > General Networking > Digital Broadcast Technologies

Digital Broadcast Technologies

  • Article is provided courtesy of Cisco Press.
  • Date: Aug 20, 2001.

Article Description

Digital technology is becoming pervasive in all types of services. As computing power continues to increase, more and more functions can be tackled in the digital domain. An excellent example is the transmission of television pictures. This sample chapter from OpenCableā„¢ Architecture, winner of NCTA Book of the Year Award, introduces a number of key digital broadcast technologies.

MPEG-2 Compression

MPEG-2 video compression is the de facto standard for entertainment video. MPEG-2 video compression is popular for a number of reasons:

  • It is an international standard [ISO/IEC IS 13818-2].

  • MPEG-2 places no restrictions on the video encoder implementation. This allows each encoder designer to introduce new techniques to improve compression efficiency and picture quality. Since MPEG-2 video encoders were first introduced in 1993, compression efficiency has improved by 30 to 40%, despite predictions by many that MPEG-2’s fundamental theoretical limitations would prevent this.

  • MPEG-2 fully defines the video decoder’s capability at particular levels and profiles. Many MPEG-2 chip-sets are available and will work with any main level at main profile (MP@ML)–compliant MPEG-2 bit-stream from any source. Nevertheless, quality can change significantly from one MPEG-2 video decoder to another, especially in error handling and video clip transitions.

  • MPEG-2 video compression is part of a larger standard that includes support for transport and timing functions.

Moreover, MPEG-2 is likely to remain as the dominant standard for entertainment video because it has been so successful in establishing an inventory of standard decoders (both in existing consumer electronics products and in the chip libraries of most large semiconductor companies). Additional momentum comes from the quantity of real-time and stored content already compressed into MPEG-2 format. Even succeeding work by the MPEG committees has been abandoned (MPEG-3) or retargeted to solve different problems (MPEG-4 and MPEG-7).

MPEG-2 is a lossy video compression method based on motion vector estimation, discrete cosine transforms, quantization, and Huffman encoding. (Lossy means that data is lost, or thrown away, during compression, so quality after decoding is less than the original picture.) Taking these techniques in order:

  • Motion vector estimation is used to capture much of the change between video frames, in the form of best approximations of each part of a frame as a translation (generally due to motion) of a similar-sized piece of another video frame. Essentially, there is a lot of temporal redundancy in video, which can be discarded. (The term temporal redundancy is applied to information that is repeated from one frame to another.)

  • Discrete cosine transform (DCT) is used to convert spatial information into frequency information. This allows the encoder to discard information, corresponding to higher video frequencies, which are less visible to the human eye.

  • Quantization is applied to the DCT coefficients of either original frames (in some cases) or the DCT of the residual (after motion estimation) to restrict the set of possible values transmitted by placing them into groups of values that are almost the same.

  • Huffman encoding uses short codes to describe common values and longer codes to describe rarer values—this is a type of entropy coding.

The foregoing is a highly compressed summary of MPEG-2 video compression (with many details omitted). However, there are so many excellent descriptions of MPEG compression (see DTV: The Revolution in Electronic Imaging, by Jerry C. Whitaker; Digital Compression for Multimedia: Principles and Standards, by Jerry D. Gibson and others; Testing Digital Video, by Dragos Ruiu and others; and Modern Cable Television Technology; Video, Voice, and Data Communications, by Walter Ciciora and others) that more description is not justified here. Instead, the following sections concentrate on the most interesting aspects of MPEG:

  • What are MPEG-2’s limitations?

  • What happens when MPEG-2 breaks?

  • How can compression ratios be optimized to reduce transmission cost without compromising (too much) on quality?

MPEG Limitations

If MPEG-2 is so perfect, why is there any need for other compression schemes? (There are a great many alternative compression algorithms, such as wavelet, pyramid, fractal, and so on.) MPEG-2 is a good solution for coding relatively high-quality video when certain transmission requirements can be met. However, MPEG-2 coding is rarely used in Internet applications because the Internet cannot generally guarantee the quality of service (QoS) parameters required for MPEG-2–coded streams. These QoS parameters are summarized in Table 4-1.

Table 4-1 MPEG-2 QoS Parameters for Entertainment Quality Video

As you can see from the table, for entertainment-quality video, MPEG-2 typically requires a reasonably high bit rate, and this bit rate must be guaranteed. Video-coding will, in general, produce a variable information rate, but MPEG-2 allows for CBR transmission facilities (for example, satellite transponders, microwave links, and fiber transmission facilities). As such, MPEG-2 encoders attempt to take advantage of every bit in the transmission link by coding extra detail during less-challenging scenes. When the going gets tough—during a car chase, for example—MPEG-2 encoders use more bits for motion and transmit less detail. Another way to think of this is that MPEG-2 encoding varies its degree of loss according to the source material. Fortunately, the human visual system tends to work in a similar way, and we pay less attention to detail when a scene contains more motion. (This is true of a car chase whether you are watching it or you are in it!)

MPEG-2 coded material is extremely sensitive to errors and lost information because of the way in which MPEG-2 puts certain vital information into a single packet. If this packet is lost or corrupted, there can be a significant impact on the decoder, causing it to drop frames or to produce very noticeable blocking artifacts. If you think of an MPEG-2 stream as a list of instructions to the decoder, you can understand why the corruption of a single instruction can play havoc with the decoded picture.

Finally, MPEG-2 is extremely sensitive to variations in transmission delay. These are not usually measurable in synchronous transmission systems (for example, satellite links) because each bit propagates through the system according to the clock rate. In packet- or cell-based networks, however, it is possible for each packet-sized group of bits to experience a different delay. MPEG-2 was designed with synchronous transmission links in mind and embeds timing information into certain packets by means of timestamps. If the timestamps experience significant jitter (or cell delay variation), it causes distortions in audio and video fidelity due to timing variations in the sample clocks—for example, color shifts due to color subcarrier phase variations.

MPEG-2 Artifacts

What are MPEG artifacts? In practice, all lossy encoders generate artifacts, or areas of unfaithful visual reproduction, all the time; if the encoder is well designed, all these artifacts will be invisible to the human eye. However, the best laid plans sometimes fail; the following are some of the more common MPEG-2 artifacts:

  • If the compression ratio is too high, there are sometimes simply not enough bits to encode the video signal without significant loss. The better encoders will progressively soften the picture (by discarding some picture detail); however, poorer encoders sometimes break down and overflow an internal buffer. When this happens, all kinds of visual symptoms—from bright green blocks to dropped frames—can result. After such a breakdown, the encoder will usually recover for a short period until once again the information rate gets too high to code into the available number of bits.

  • Another common visible artifact is sometimes visible in dark scenes or in close-ups of the face and is sometimes called contouring. As the name suggests, the image looks a little like a contour map drawn with a limited set of shades rather than a continuously varying palette. This artifact sometimes reveals the macro-block boundaries (which is sometimes called tiling). When this happens, it is usually because the encoder allocates too few quantization levels to the scene.

  • NOTE

    Macro-blocks are areas of 16-by-16 pixels that are used by MPEG for DCT and motion-estimation purposes. See Chapter 3 of Modern Cable Television Technology; Video, Voice, and Data Communications by Walter Ciciora and others, for more details.

  • High-frequency mosquito noise will sometimes be apparent in the background. Mosquito noise is often apparent in surfaces, such as wood, plaster, and wool, that contain an almost limitless amount of detail due to their natural texture. The encoder can be overtaxed by so much detail and creates a visual effect that looks as if the walls are crawling with ants.

There are many more artifacts associated with MPEG encoding and decoding; however, a well-designed system should rarely, if ever, produce annoying visible artifacts.

MPEG-2 Operating Guidelines

To avoid visible artifacts due to encoding, transmission errors, and decoding, the entire MPEG-2 system must be carefully designed to operate within certain guidelines:

  • The compression ratio cannot be pushed too high. Just where the limit is on compression ratio for given material at a certain image resolution and frame rate is a subject of intense and interminable debate. Ultimately, the decision involves engineers and artists and will vary according to encoder performance (there is some expectation of improvements in rate with time, although also some expectation of a law of diminishing returns). Table 4-2 gives some guidance based on experience.

  • Table 4-2 MPEG-2 Resolution Versus Minimum Bit Rate Guidelines

  • The transmission system must generate very few errors during the average viewing time of an event. For example, in a two-hour movie, the same viewers may tolerate very few significant artifacts (such as frame drop or green blocks). In practice, this means that the transmission system must employ forward error correction (FEC) techniques.

Other Video Compression Algorithms

There are a great many alternative video compression algorithms, such as wavelet, pyramid, fractal, and so on (see Chapter 7 of Digital Compression for Multimedia: Principles and Standards by Jerry D. Gibson and others). Many have special characteristics that make them suitable for very low bit rate facilities, for software decoding on a PC, and so on. However, it is unlikely that they will pose a significant threat to MPEG-2 encoding for entertainment video in the near future.

Compression Processing Requirements

Let’s take a full-resolution video frame that contains 480 lines, each consisting of 720 pixels. The total frame, therefore, contains 345,600 pixels. Remember that a new frame arrives from the picture source every 33 milliseconds. Thus, the pixel rate is 10,368,000 per second. Imagine that the compression process requires about 100 operations per pixel. Obviously, a processor with a performance of 1,000 million instructions per second (mips) is required.

In practice, custom processing blocks are often built in hardware to handle common operations, such as motion estimation and DCT used by MPEG-2 video compression.

Details of MPEG-2 Video Compression

The following sections detail some of the more practical aspects of MPEG-2 video compression:

  • Picture resolution—MPEG-2 is designed to handle the multiple picture resolutions that are commonly in use for broadcast television. This section defines what is meant by picture resolution and how it affects the compression process.

  • Compression ratio—MPEG-2 can achieve excellent compression ratios when compared to analog transmission, but there is some confusion about the definition of compression ratios. This section discusses the difference between the MPEG compression ratio and the overall compression ratio.

  • Real-time MPEG-2 compression—Most of the programs delivered over cable systems are compressed in real-time at the time of transmission. This section discusses the special requirements for real-time MPEG-2 encoders.

  • Non–real-time MPEG-2 compression—Stored-media content does not require a real-time encoder, and there are certain advantages to non–real-time compression systems.

  • Statistical multiplexing—This section explains how statistical multiplexing works in data communications systems and what special extensions have been invented to support the statistical multiplexing of MPEG-2 program streams.

  • Re-multiplexing—Re-multiplexing, or grooming, of compressed program streams is discussed, including a recent technique that actually allows the program stream to be dynamically reencoded to reduce its bit rate.

Picture Resolution

MPEG-2 compression is a family of standards that defines many different profiles and levels. (For a complete description of all MPEG-2 profiles and levels, see Chapter 5 of DTV: The Revolution in Electronic Imaging by Jerry C. Whitaker.) MPEG-2 compression is most commonly used in its main profile at its main level (abbreviated to MP@ML). This MPEG-2 profile and level is designed for the compression of standard definition television pictures with a resolution of 480 vertical lines.

The resolution of a picture describes how many pixels are used to describe a single frame. The higher the resolution, the more pixels per frame. In many cases, the luminance information is coded with more pixels than the chrominance information.


The retina of the human eye perceives more detail with rod cells, which are sensitive only to the intensity of light—the luminance—and perceives less detail with cone cells, which are sensitive to the color of light—the chrominance.

Chroma subsampling takes advantage of the way the human eye works by sampling the chrominance with less detail than the luminance information. In the MPEG-2 main profile (MP), the chrominance information is subsampled at half the horizontal and vertical resolution compared to the luminance information. For example, if the luminance information is sampled at a resolution of 480 by 720, the chrominance information is sampled at a resolution of 240 by 360, requiring one-fourth the number of pixels. This arrangement is called 4:2:0 sampling. The effect of 4:2:0 sampling is to nearly halve the video bandwidth compared to sampling luminance and chrominance at the same resolution.

Compression Ratio

The compression ratio is a commonly misused term. It is used to compare the spectrum used by a compressed signal with the spectrum used by an equivalent NTSC (National Television Systems Committee) analog signal. Expressed this way, typical compression ratios achieved by MPEG-2 range from 6:1 to 14:1. Why is the term confusing?

If you take the same video signal and modulate it as an analog signal (uncompressed) and compress it using MPEG-2, you have two very different things. The analog signal is an analog waveform with certain bandwidth constraints so that it fits into 6 MHz, whereas the MPEG-2 elementary stream is just a string of bits that cannot be transmitted until further processing steps are taken. These steps include multiplexing, transport, and digital modulation, and they all affect how much bandwidth is required by the compressed signal.

To compare apples with apples, you must take the same video signal and convert it to an uncompressed digital signal (this is actually the first step in the compression process and is termed analog-to-digital conversion or simply sampling). You can now compare the uncompressed digital signal with the MPEG-2 compressed elementary stream for a true comparison of the input bit rate and the output bit rate of the compression process. A full-resolution uncompressed video signal sampled in 4:2:0 (see the previous section, “Picture Resolution”) requires 124.416 Mbps. MPEG-2 can squeeze this down to about 4 Mbps with little or no loss in perceived quality; this is a true compression ratio of 124:4 or 31:1. This is very different than the commonly quoted range of 6:1 to 14:1.

To continue the math, take the 4 Mbps video elementary stream and add an audio stream at 192 Kbps to create a program stream at 4.192 Mbps. Add information to describe how the streams are synchronized and place the data into short transport packets for efficient multiplexing with other streams. You now have a payload of approximately 4.3 Mbps. Using 64-QAM modulation (see the section Broadband Transmission in this chapter), six 4.3 Mbps streams fit into its 27 Mbps payload. Thus, we could express this as a 6:1 compression ratio.

This is all very confusing! In this example, a video signal with a 31:1 MPEG-2 video compression ratio is roughly equivalent to an overall compression ratio of 6:1. (If the example employs 256-QAM and statistical multiplexing, you might achieve an overall compression ratio of 12:1 although the MPEG-2 video compression ratio is still 31:1.)

In this book, the terms MPEG-2 video compression ratio and overall compression ratio will be used to distinguish these very different measures.

Real-Time MPEG-2 Compression

Real-time compression is commonly used at satellite up-links to compress a video signal into a digital program stream as part of the transmission (or retransmission) process. Very often, the encoder runs for long periods of time without manual intervention. There must be sufficient headroom in the allocated bit rate to allow the encoder to operate correctly for all kinds of material that it is likely to encode. (Headroom refers to available, but normally unused, bits that are allocated to allow for the video compression of difficult scenes.) Each channel requires a dedicated encoder, so price is a definite issue for multichannel systems. The encoder must also be highly reliable, and in many cases automatic switching to a backup encoder is required.

Non–Real-Time MPEG-2 Compression

Non–real-time encoders are technically similar to real-time encoders, but have very different requirements. In fact, they may encode in real-time but their application is to encode to a stored media (such as a tape or disc), and a highly-paid compressionist usually monitors the compression of each scene. (Compressionists are studio engineers who not only understand how to operate the encoding equipment but also apply their artistic judgment in selecting the best trade-off between compression ratio and picture quality.) Therefore, encoder price is less of an issue and performance is extremely important because the compressed material will be viewed over and over again. In the case of digital versatile disks (DVDs), no annoying visible artifacts, however subtle, can be tolerated, because the picture quality will be carefully evaluated by a magazine reviewer.

Statistical Multiplexing

Statistical multiplexing is a technique commonly used in data communications to extract the maximum efficiency from a CBR link. A number of uncorrelated, bursty traffic sources are multiplexed together so that the sum of their peak rates exceed the link capacity. Because the sources are uncorrelated, there is a low probability that the sum of their transmit rates will exceed the link capacity. However, although the multiplex can be engineered so that periods of link oversubscription are rare, they will occur. (See Murphy’s law!) In data communications networks, periods of oversubscription are accommodated by packet buffering and, in extreme cases, packet discard. (The Internet is a prime example of an oversubscribed, statistically multiplexed network where packet delay and loss may be high during busy periods.)

Video material has a naturally varying information rate—when the scene suddenly changes from an actor sitting at a table to an explosion, the information rate skyrockets. Although MPEG-2 is designed to compensate by encoding more or less detail according to the amount of motion, the encoded bit rate may vary by a ratio of 5 to 1 during a program.

This makes MPEG-2 program streams excellent candidates for statistical multiplexing, except for the fact that MPEG-2 is extremely sensitive to delay and loss. As such, statistical multiplexing cannot be used for MPEG-2 if there is any probability of loss due to oversubscription.

Therefore, statistical multiplexing has been specially modified for use with MPEG by the addition of the following mechanisms:

  • A series of real-time encoders are arranged so that their output can be combined by a multiplexer into a single multi-program transport stream (MPTS). Each encoder has a control signal that instructs it to set its target bit-rate to a certain rate.

  • The multiplexer monitors the sum of the traffic from all the encoders as it combines them, and in real-time decides whether the bit rate is greater or lower than the transmission link capacity.

  • When one encoder has a more challenging scene to compress, it requests that its output rate be allowed to rise. The hope is that one of the other encoders will have less-difficult material and will lower its output rate.

However, there is a significant probability that all the encoders could be called upon to encode a challenging scene at the same time. When this happens, the aggregate bit rate will exceed the link capacity. A conventional statistical multiplexer would discard some packets, but in the case of MPEG-2, this would be disastrous and almost guarantee poor-quality video at the output of the decoders.

Instead, the multiplexer buffers the additional packets and requests that the encoders lower their encoded bit rate. The buffered packets are delayed by only a few milliseconds, but MPEG-2 is extremely sensitive to delay variation. The multiplexer can fix this within limits; as long as the decoder pipeline does not underflow and the timestamps are adjusted to compensate for the additional time they are buffered, the decoder continues to function normally.

Some statistical multiplexers use a technique called look ahead statistical multiplexing (pioneered by DiviCom—see http://www.divi.com/). In this technique, the material is encoded or statistics are extracted in a first pass, the information is passed to the multiplexer (while the original input video is passing through a pipeline delay), and bit rates are assigned for each encoder; so when the real encoding happens, a reasonable bit rate is already assigned. This solves some of the nasty feedback issues that can happen in less sophisticated designs.


Until recently, it was impossible to modify an encoded MPEG-2-bit stream in real-time. It is now possible, however, to parse the MPEG-2 syntax and modify it to reduce the bit rate by discarding some of the encoded detail. This technique was pioneered by Imedia Corporation (http://www.imedia.com/) and allows the feedback loop between the MPEG encoders and the multiplexer to be removed. In a reencoding (or translation) system, the multiplexer is used to combine a number of variable bit rate MPEG-2 streams. If, at any instant in time, the aggregate bit rate of all of the streams exceeds the transmission link capacity, the multiplexer will reencode one or more of the streams to intelligently discard information to reduce their bit rate. Unlike statistical multiplexing, where the multiplexer could not discard any bits, the multiplexer reduces the bit rate by discarding some information—for example, fine detail.

Reencoding is a very useful technique to use whenever a number of multi-program transport streams are groomed—that is, a new output multiplex is formed from program streams taken from several input multiplexes. Without some means of adapting the coded rate, re-multiplexing would result in considerable inefficiency and the output multiplex would contain fewer channels.

A second application of reencoding is in Digital Program Insertion (DPI). DPI splices one single-program transport program stream into another so that the viewer is unaware of the transition. It can be used to insert local advertisements into a broadcast program. Reencoding allows the inserted segment to be rate-adapted to the segment that it replaces. DPI is discussed in more detail in Chapter 15, "OpenCable Headend Interfaces."

Although reencoding techniques are extremely useful, feedback-controlled statistical multiplexing is superior from a compression-efficiency perspective when it is possible to collocate encoders and multiplexers. Hence, feedback-controlled statistical multiplexing tends to dominate at original encoding sites that include statistical multiplexing, whereas reencoding is appropriate at nodes where grooming of statistically multiplexed signals needs to be performed.

3. Audio Compression | Next Section Previous Section

Cisco Press Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Cisco Press and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Cisco Press products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@ciscopress.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Cisco Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.ciscopress.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020