UK: Telewest Offers Cable HD with Scientific Atlanta PVRs

Cable provider Telewest has launched Britain's first major HD service, getting a bit of an edge on DBS firm BSkyB and broadcaster BBC, among other future content providers which are gearing up for their own HD rollouts later this year. Telewest, a public company founded 22 years ago, is one of two major cable firms inside the UK. These days it's reportedly been trying to overcome a reputation for poor customer service.

HD subs will need to obtain Telewest's new STB--Scientific Atlanta's Explorer 8300DVB HD PVR--which is being marketed by Telewest as "TVDrive." Up to 30 hours of weekly HD programs from BBC Worldwide and others will be available to subs through Telewest's VOD system.

The MSO has vowed to add more HD choices later this year by combining the TVDrive STB-PVR with VOD service. According to published reports, Telewest currently passes an estimated 4.5 million UK homes. The TVDrive service currently goes for 10 pounds sterling (about $17.50) monthly for Telewest subs who are already taking the company's top-tier DTV package, or for 15 pounds sterling (about $26) separately.