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Sky comes back down to earth

Launching terrestrial digital TV service

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Sky has announced plans to provide a terrestrial digital TV service in the UK; allowing reception of Sky's pay-TV services over a normal TV aerial. The service will need a new set-top box, and will use the spectrum currently occupied by Sky's three Freeview channels.

By using MPEG4 encoding the service won't conform to the DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) standard, which mandates MPEG2, but it will be able to deliver four channels where Sky 3, Sky News and Sky Sports News currently live.

Using different encoding will mean selling new set-top boxes, but Sky obviously believes there are a significant number of users who want access to Sky but can't, or won't, fit a satellite dish.

Sky's move into terrestrial digital tackles the satellite dish issue, and although the company's taking a risk by rolling out its own technical standard, it's shown in the past that keeping prices low makes its products attractive to consumers.

Sky will still need approval from Ofcom, and National Grid Wireless (transmitter of Sky's current terrestrial channels) might raise technical issues. ®

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