Saturday, February 17, 2007

it's all about Money- and Sky

Sky and DTT
The fallout from Sky’s announcement that they will launch pay TV services on their terrestrial bandwidth carries on in a muted fashion with OFCOM doing their deliberations.
Assuming that Sky’s plan is a serious one (some commentators are voicing the opinion that Sky used the idea merely to spoil Virgin Media launch knowing that OFCOM would not permit) then part of the impact is going to be around the STB (Set Top Box),
Now MPEG 4 is what Sky say the new channels will use, the current DTT standard is MPEG2 a move to MPEG4 is interesting in that it's the system being used on Sky’s Satellite High Definition service and also being used in the UK terrestrial HD trials (incidentally also the system used in France for Digital TV), so will Sky’s box be able to receive MPEG2 and MPEG4 –I think this would be an essential a future proof MPEG4 box with download capability and HD ready would be great- is it likely to be on the cards for summer 2007- NO
Now not everyone knows it but there is already a pay proposition on Terrestrial TV, it’s called TOP UP TV, the people behind it are some ex Skyers and it uses MPEG2 and Mediaguard (for it’s live services like Setanta) and a proprietary Thomson system for its programmes that are described as Top Up TV Anytime – so will there be interoperability between Sky pay on terrestrial and Top Up TV – I think to say unlikely is putting it mildly (unless OFCOM insist and then I think it’ll take some time or Sky will decide it’s not of interest).
So is Sky’s plan merely a short term spoiler ?– I don’t think so as I’ve said before Sky, BT and Virgin Media are fighting for the same coveted place in the home and if Sky can get the right STB in the home be it Satellite or terrestrial then they have the chance to deliver both linear live services and an on demand service (along with broadband home security and goodness knows what else).
I would say this is good news for Pace, Amstrad and other makers of little boxes that you put near your telly.
Mobile phones as electronic purse/wallet
Another technology that seems to be of the day – is the electronic purse, now when I was in HK about 10 or so years ago a trial was done in some of the shopping Malls where low value items (a coffee and a paper for example) could be bought electronically – I’m not sure what it proved. Fast forward a few years and we have the successful roll out in London of Oyster cards, handling cash is expensive and time consuming and London Transport ticket counter queues on a Monday morning or the beginning of the month were legendary (and a terrible way to start the week).
What do the majority of people not leave their home without – their mobile phone.
This week I’ve been reading of how money transfers are made using mobile phones both in the developing world and increasingly from the ‘West’.
Bring this lot together and you’ve got the cashless society- let’s revisit in a year or two to see how it goes. Or if you have a view/experience let me know.
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