DirecTV (opens in new tab) plans to begin HD delivery of local broadcast digital channels in approximately a dozen markets by the end of 2005, if not sooner. New subscribers, and only new subs, will be targeted first to order MPEG-4 receivers. The DBS provider has not yet made a formal announcement about the start of local-station HD around the United States, or specifically which markets will be affected first. Word of the initial rollout came via remarks reportedly made by DirecTV Group CEO Chase Carey a few days ago at an investment meeting in Manhattan.
The MPEG-4 receivers, which will includes DVRs, will come with a dishes containing Ku- and Ka-band LNBs ("low noise block" downconverters) that will grow the price tag a bit--with total conversion, including installation, estimated to be somewhere under $500 per subscriber, according to Warren Communications. Local HD channels will be delivered via DirecTV's Spaceway 1 and Spaceway 2 satellites at 99° W and 103° W. Both satellites are expected to have capacity for about 500 local HD broadcast channels--about one-third of all local primary HD channels nationwide.
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