The BBC is extending its high definition TV trial. I discovered recently, courtesy of TSViewer software and a TechniSat SkyStar 2 card installed on my home PC, that the Beeb is testing HD on Astra 2x. Unfortunately, it’s not disseminating HDTV source material – instead, only an ‘upscaled’ version of BBC1. Thanks to what can be safely assumed is an uncompressed feed from the studio, plus higher-than-is-strictly-necessary (18Mbps on average) H.264 bitrate, the picture quality is noticeably better than the ‘standard’ satellite and DTT MPEG-2 services.
For those interested, these are the technical details of the service I have found: 10847.00MHz
Symbol rate: 22000
Forward error connection: 5/6
Service ID: 6940
Program ID (H.264 video): 2318 Program ID (audio): 2319 (Dolby Digital, 2-channel); 2320 (MPEG-1 Layer 2, 2-channel)
For most of us, it’s the BBC’s Sky platform trial which is going to be the most accessible. But will it be possible to view the satellite broadcasts with open standard HD boxes or satellite PC cards?
Says the BBC’s Jackie Burton: “The corporation will be changing technical parameters as and when during the trial, in order to test and perfect our signal, so we are warning that buyers should beware at this early stage if they use open standard satellite boxes (ie anything but Sky) to watch our trial. We can’t guarantee they will pick up our stream throughout the trial as we test and change parameters.
“Of course it is the BBC’s eventual aim that our HD broadcasts will be receivable by suitable open standard boxes and we are working across the industry to try to unify standards. But for now this is very much a trial so we can’t make any guarantees. Of course open standard boxes won’t pick up the full range of interactivity and EPG either.” By Martin Pipe