Foxtel reveals HDTV plans

12 Oct 2006


There are clear indications from our consumers that these are the things that light up their imaginations," Delany says. 

Foxtel recently signed a deal with Telstra, which would see Foxtel delivering a package of channels to Telstra mobile customers via Telstra's Next-G mobile network and its existing 3G network. 

"Foxtel is about delivering compelling video entertainment through any digital medium, including cable, satellite, broadband and mobile networks. Next-G is an exciting extension for Foxtel and, over time, we intend to grow the offering substantially with the addition of more channels and on-demand elements," Delany says, adding that there has also been a DVB-H trial.  

"We see 3G and DVB-H being great partners, as mobile TV delivered to a 3G phone has obvious limitations as the operator is conducting an individual session every time a consumer watches the channel. That means 3G networks can only handle a certain number of people watching, which in turn means that the more popular a service gets, the more issues there are. To overcome this issue, you need a broadcast technology, and we think DVB-H is a good fit," he says. 

He adds that Foxtel sees DVB-H as being part of a "Foxtel-to-go"-style product where there is a tablet-style screen with a disk drive on which one can sync up against a Foxtel personal video recorder (PVR) while also receiving live TV channels through a DVB-H chip. 

"Hidden" SVoD launches 

Like most pay-TV operators, Foxtel is looking at new platforms and methods to maximize its revenues. Delany reveals details of a new on-demand service in the planning stages. 

"Ten percent of our base has the Foxtel IQ, a 160GB PVR. During the design phase of the Foxtel IQ, we made the decision to partition the hard drive, allocating 100GB for the subscriber and 60GB to Foxtel. In December, we will launch SVoD using the hidden Foxtel part of the partition. This will involve pushing programs over a hidden broadcast channel into the hidden part of the drive. Content will appear in a new on-demand menu, and it will be freely available to subscribers who subscribe to the channel. We are also looking at downloads to PCs," he explains. 

"We may introduce a scaled-down service with a view to developing our technical understanding in this space as well as an understanding of the types of products consumers want on a download-to-STB-type service. If we were to launch a full download-to-STB-type service, it would be in around 18 months' time after we introduce our next generation of PVR, a 250GB-300GB box. This box will have a number of tuners, making it possible to allocate two tuners to the consumer: a tuner for products using broadcast technology (e.g., HD) and possibly an IPTV tuner for downloads. MPEG4 compression technology will also be utilized," he adds. 


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