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Netribution's HDTV UK Guide

HDTV BalloonsSeveral years after it launched in the US and Japan High Definition Television, or HDTV, is finally set to arrive in Europe. The stores are full of HD ready flat screen sets (plasma and LCD) and projection systems, the transmission standards have been agreed. All that is lacking now is HDTV content and that is building fast. This is the Netribution Guide to where you will find HDTV and when.

It will deliver striking images in either the 720p or 1080i formats which broadcasters claim are up to four times more detailed than those we see on our current digital sets. Everything is in now in place. The stores are full of HD ready flat screen sets (plasma and LCD) and projection systems, the transmission standards have been agreed. All that is lacking now is HDTV content and that is building fast

Balloons in High Definition

This is the Netribution Guide to where you will find HDTV and when.

Euro 1080 ETA - Available now

This pioneering HD service which is available across Europe, has been operational for over year now. It has several channels which are available in the UK via the Astra satellites. You’ll need a HD decoder to view the transmissions, which are mainly music, sport and documentary footage.

Sky HD ETA - Summer 2006

Digital satellite is an ideal platform or HDTV. Not unnaturally, Sky has rushed in to make the most of the opportunity as fast as it can. Sky plan to launch their HD service in 2006, presumed late spring which will deliver HD versions of its channels Sky Sports, Sky One, Sky Movies along with HD footage from other broadcasters like Discovery. Football, rugby and cricket games will be offered in high def, and Sky has a raft of movies to screen on HD and plenty of HD-ready series like 24, Nip/Tuck, The 4400, Deadwood and Battlestar Galactica. There will be a Sky+ style box complete with integrated hard disk, on offer as part of the subscription package. Thomson are building these now. An initial fee for the box, then a set fee per month for the programmes is the likely set-up.

Telewest ETA - Summer 2006

Cable company Telewest could be the first home broadcaster in the UK to offer a HD service. It uses a new technology called Docsis 3.0, which will offer data speeds of up to 100Mpbs. An HD channel takes up around 6-8Mbps of data so this leaves bandwidth to spare. It could offer a series of HD channels, or could be a video on demand service. No costs details are known as yet, but it is suspected a Telewest hard disk video recorder might feature somewhere.

NTL ETA - Late 2006

NTL has been trialling a new form of broadband connection called ADSL2+ which delivers data download speeds of up to 24Mbps – more than enough for top quality HDTV. It also has its own cable network which could deliver HD programming, either on a channel-by-channel basis, or as video on demand. An HDTV launch has been talked about , but the company might hang on until 2007, especially if a merger with rival Telewest - predicted for years - finally takes place.

BBC HD ETA - Summer 2006

The BBC has plenty of HD footage as it has been shooting in the format for years. Now it needs a platform to deliver it. There just is not enough bandwidth to launch HD via digital terrestrial Freeview systems, so the BBC will probably have to resort to digital satellite. Along with ITV it has taken out space on the Astra satellite and could well use this to launch an HDTVchannel or twohis year. Viewers could use the Sky HD box to receive the transmissions and broadcasts could be free.

BBC HD via the web ETA - 2007

It is very early days for streaming HD via the web for two key reasons: users need very fast broadband connections - at least 8Mbps – to view the signals, secondly, roll-out of connections with this kind of speed in the US is non-existent at the moment. A growing number of ISPs in the UK are offering high speed connections (between 8-20Mbps) now, such as Bulldog, UKOnline and Be. The downside is, users need to be fairly close to their local BT exchange to have access to this kind of speed. Some analysts have predicted that the majority of people will be accessing HD via the web by 2010, but if this is to happen, some breakthrough technology is needed so more homes can have faster internet speeds..

HD DVD ETA - Spring 2006

One of two formats (the other is Blu-ray) trying to become the optical disc standard for HD movies and arguably the successor to DVD. HD DVD was developed by Toshiba and is expected go on sale in the US by the end of the year. HD DVD drives will be sold for PCs, there will be standalone video players and there needs to be a good selection of discs on launching. Look out for it demo-ing this year. HD DVD recorders will follow in a couple of years.

HD DVD Blu-ray ETA - Spring 2006

Blu-ray is supported by a high percentage of consumer electronics manufacturers Favourite to establish itself as the HD disc formats of the future. A blu-ray player being integrated into the PlayStation 3 which is slated for a release next year is a trump card. Blu-ray players and PC drives should reach the UK in summer 2006.