Feeds

BBC to offer High Definition TV

Cable and satellite viewers can tune in next year

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Certified gadget obsessives Tech Digest and Shiny Shiny scour Gizmoville for the oddest digital goodies, Bayraider keeps tabs on the best and worst of eBay and HDTVUK charts the latest High Definition TV news.

The BBC has confirmed that it is to offer High Definition TV to satellite and cable viewers at some point during 2006. It will also start what it is billing as ‘limited technical trials' of HD over digital terrestrial, (Freeview) but acknowledges that there won't be the bandwidth to offer HD to consumers in this format until the digital switchover, which starts in 2008 and finishes in 2012, is completed.

Cable and satellite viewers will be able to see highlights of BBC ONE's peaktime schedule in high definition. The corporation is apparently in talks with the operators to secure this. The terrestrial trial will run in the London area at the same time and apparently won’t affect reception of existing Freeview channels. The BBC hopes to provide a limited number of HD set top box receivers to triallists.

Director of Television, Jana Bennett, will outline the BBC's vision for future free-to-air high definition television when she takes part in an industry event in London tonight. She said: "High definition may take time to grow in Britain, but as with the other technologies we helped to build, the BBC wants to prepare now to be able to deliver the benefits of HD to all its licence payers in the long term."

The BBC's HDTV announcement won’t surprise anyone in the TV industry. The BBC has been making series like Rome and Bleak House in High Definition for several years now largely to sell to the US and Far eastern markets. All it needed was a platform to parade its HD footage in the UK.

Offering its HD services via satellite is also something of a no brainer for the BBC. It can lease space on the Astra satellite (as used by Sky) and then broadcast the signals with any owner of a Sky HD box able to receive the transmissions.

Newly merged NTL and Telewest is expected to offer HD at some point during 2006. Although it is not clear if it will deliver the signals via existing TV-oriented cable technology or offer it via IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) in which the signals are delivered by an ultra fast (at 8Mbps) broadband connection to a set top box.

The disappointing part for the BBC is that by offering its services via satellite it is likely to strengthen Sky’s position as a key provider of HDTV for the UK. Sky is likely to launch its HD service for consumers in the spring with its own sports and movie channels supported by broadcasters that may include Discovery and MTV. For viewers with no access to cable the only way to see BBC HD will be via satellite.

In announcing the trials of HDTV over digital terrestrial the BBC is doing little more than dipping its tow in the water. Realistically it won't be able to deliver HDTV over digital terrestrial nationwide until 2012, by which time other distribution systems such as satellite, cable and broadband will be available to most Britons.

More HDTV news

PS3 pricey because of HDTV

Starter guide to HDTV

Is HDTV cable's secret weapon?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
EE buys 58 Phones 4u stores for £2.5m after picking over carcass
Operator says it will safeguard 359 jobs, plans lick of paint
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.