Dishing It Out

The DISH Network has unveiled what is being called the biggest HD upgrade in pay TV history. They'll beam down 1080p programming, and up to 150 national HD channels; that's an industry first.

Their 100% all-HD suite of programming packages will be called TurboHD. Seventeen more national HD channels will go online immediately, and that exceeds DISH's goal of beaming 100 national HD channels, five months of schedule. Phase two is to increase that number to 150 HD channels by the end of 2008. That is possible courtesy of their Echo XI satellite, the newest and most powerful bird in their fleet.

The new HD services are supported by a proprietary system upgrade that is being rolled out to all MPEG-4 HD and HD DVR receivers starting August 1. The upgrade activates features in the set-top boxes, allowing the ability to output 1080p programming. DISH customers with MPEG-4 HD and HD DVR receivers will have the only set-top boxes in the nation enabled to display 1080p content, hopefully on their 1080p HDTV sets....

To coincide with the new HD services, DISH will let subscribers see I Am Legend at 1080p resolution, at a discounted price. According to DISH, this is the first time a pay-TV provider has offered a movie in 1080p. Consumers can sign up for HD programming with the TurboHD programming packages, starting at $24.99 a month. TurboHD is available in three tiers and includes DISH's HD technology, and equipment enabled to display 1080p programming.

Current DISH customers with MPEG-4 HD and HD DVR receivers will be automatically upgraded by early August with all the features and benefits of TurboHD. DISH customers can add HD package for as little as $10 more per month. FiOS, be afraid, be very afraid. -Ken C. Pohlmann