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Freesat Adds New Channels

Freesat has seen it’s channel offering improve yet agin with new channels joining the line up. 3 New Channels from the Sky stable are welcome additions to the service – Pick TV (144) Challenge (145) & Sky News (202). We are particularly pleased to see Sky News join the platform. We already tuned it in for most of our customers, but it was a pain having the change the mode (ie Non Freesat Mode) to get access. Well done Sky & Freesat for seeing the mutual benefit to all parties. Finally a 6th HD Service has joined the Freesat EPG. Russia Today – RT – has upgraded to HD for those with HD Receivers.

OFCOM Announces winners of 4G Auction

OFCOM has announced the 5 winners for the spectrum to operate 4G Mobile Phone Services.

They are – Everything Everywhere (Orange & T-Mobile), Hutchison 3G UK, Telefonica (O2), Vodafone & Niche Spectrum Ventures (BT Group).

A few interesting things come to light in the results. Niche Spectrum (BT) have only 2.6GHz spectrum, which indicates they are concentrating on heavily populated areas only, as that high frequency doesn’t travel or propagate very far. Hutchison 3G, operators of the 3 Network have only acquired the 800 MHz Spectrum, which indicates they will be reusing their existing 2.1GHz for populated area 4G service – thus using the 800 MHz band to increase coverage across the country. This should also greatly improve their indoor coverage – something much needed as 2.1GHz really doesn’t travel well. The Telefonia (O2) Licence comes with a attahcement that the network must offer 98% INDOOR Mobile Broadband Coverage – 99% Outdoor – by 2017. That really is a tall order & will require at lot of Network Planning, aggressive Roll Over & a LOT of Transmitters.

The auction raised £2.4Million for the Treasury, well short of the £3.5 Million expected. Things have changed a lot since the previous auction of 3G Licences, which raised in excess of £22 BILLION for the then Chancellor Gordon Brown. At that time , I worked for Orange & was astounded everytime the latest round of bids went in. The networks should, hopefully see ROI this time around.

Our main concern with 4G Services is the interference the 800 Mz Band will cause to Freeview Reception throughout the UK.

BBC 2 HD to Launch March 26th 2013

The BBC Trust have confirmed a ‘Launch’ of BBC 2 HD on March 26th 2013. This will, sadly, not be an additional service but instead will replace the current BBC HD Channel on all platforms – Freeview / YouView 102, Sky 169, Freesat 109 & BT Vision 852. Whilst we welcome the ‘addition’ we can’t help think its a shame that some of the excellent content on BBC 3 & BBC 4 will no longer have an outlet for the HD Version. It also seems to be a cost cutting exercise by the BBC – Whilst at the same time launching BBC 1 HD Regional Version – with its ‘Upscaled’ content – for Wales, Scotland and Northern Island.

This represents the loss of an excellent Licence Funded Service where you were guaranteed to see ONLY High Definition Content. We are also sad to say this may well see the end of the BBC HD Test Card being available for dealers & techies like ourself to check just how good (or bad) new HD Screens are. Shame, the price of progress?

It is also the end of BBCs 3D Trial Broadcasts. We accept the whole 3D thing hasn’t really taken off, but again, shame to see the service dropped. The BBC is renowned round the world its expertise & technical excellence, roll on 4K

Sonos – PlayBar to Launch

Sonos have confirmed the launch date for their latest product – The Sonos PlayBar. This Soundbar adds another facet to their product line up. Offering 9 Drivers it adds seamlessly to the Sonos Wireless System.

Offering seamless integration with the current Sonos products – all current ‘connected’ components have been updated – it can operate on its own, as part of normal Sonos system or can operate as part of a 5.1 surround sound package with the Sonos Sub & Play 3’s. We understand it connects via standard RCA Phonos or Optical TOSLink Cable, also we are told it can be programmed to respond to the IR Commands of your Standard TV Remote Controller.

We are now taking pre-orders at a retail price of £599