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Ofcom has licensed two London HDTV channels.
Ofcom has licensed two frequencies in the crowded London area for trials of HDTV. These are being broadcast from the Crystal Palace transmitter, a BBC service to a group of 1000 homes lasting a year and an ITV, Channel 4 and five service with 500 homes.
The reception problems stemmed from the power of the latter transmission, and it will broadcast at 1kW ERP on C27 until November 2006. The BBC service is on C31 and will continue until mid 2007.
Ofcom has allowed these test services to test the interest in HDTV being transmitted as a Freeview-HD service. BSkyB have pointed out that the huge bandwidth available on the many satellite transmitters compared with the restricted terrestrial frequencies gives them a superior service.
These two London test services are invisible to anyone with a Freeview set-top box because the HDTV service is broadcast in an advanced digital format called MPEG-4. It is not possible to update any set-top boxes to receive this. In theory, any PC based DVB-T Freeview receiver should be able to hook in MPEG-4 playback from DIVX or Quicktime when they are installed if it can handle the 19Mb/s on incoming data (PCI or USB2).
One of the main criticisms of the MPEG-2 technology that is used for all current digital television is the blockyness that occurs when the camera pans over a crowd.
Usefully both multiplexes will be showing matches in high definition from the forthcoming football World Cup in Germany.
High definition sights of London will feature from ITV/Channel 4/five along with selected co-broadcasting of their main channel programming in a high-definition channel timeshare. BB in HD, we can only hope!