Dish Network customers in New York City and Los Angeles can now receive local station programming in HD from the service. The service plans to increase that to a total of 50 markets by the end of this year. HD programming packages start at about $50 per month.
In order to increase the number of HD channels provided, Dish Network is turning to MPEG 4 encoding, which is more efficient than the MPEG 2 encoding used for standard DVD movies. New set-top boxes are required to receive these signals.
MPEG 4 appears to be spreading rapidly, and seems to be a good way to make better use of the finite bandwidth available for video transmission. As with the case of the Dish Network set-top boxes, it means that some hardware is going to need to be upgraded or replaced over the next few years in order to take advantage of it, but I expect that it will play an important role in how HD content gets delivered.