Dishing Out HDTV

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.