Cable plans HDTV launch in 2006
Tuesday, October 4 2005, 16:22 UTC - by Neil Wilkes and James Welsh
The merged NTL and Telewest company plans to rollout HDTV services towards the end of 2006 and into 2007, it was revealed today.
Speaking on an investor conference call, NTL CEO Simon Duffy, who will be president and CEO of the combined company, said that HDTV rollout will begin "probably in the back-end of next year."
"In terms of the offerings, it's a wonderful medium for sports and live events, but it's also a competitive advantage - over time - against satellite because in the end we have more capacity so we can do more channels on HDTV than they can," explained Duffy. "It's also a competitive advantage over DSL, just given the bandwidth differences."
Neil Smith, Telewest's deputy CFO, noted that Telewest's HDTV rollout plans were "slightly ahead" of those in place at NTL.
"The analogue switchoff we've previously announced will be complete by 2006, which will free up capacity for HDTV delivery," explained Smith. "I think the HDTV delivery plan is slightly ahead of NTL's but we probably will talk to make sure we're delivering a compatible service."
Compatibility will be key to ensuring a smooth operational integration between the disparate systems owned by NTL and Telewest. Long-time Digital Spy readers will recall the maze of confusion that existed in 2001 and 2002 after NTL acquired the operations of Cable and Wireless ConsumerCo, with different service tiers being offered on NTL's original network and those on the re-branded but still distinct "ex-CWC" system. Even today, the distinction persists, with different digital TV services being offered on each part of the network, necessitating discussion of "Langley" and "Bromley" (the towns where the super head-ends for NTL's original network and the ex-CWC network are located respectively) availability whenever a new service is announced. It remains to be seen how well the integration process goes this time around, and whether service parity will be reached by the combined company before any consumer-facing rebrand takes place.
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