Echostar shows the way to 1080p

US DBS broadcaster Echostar has started HDTV transmissions in 1080p, the first in the industry to offer this high level of definition. It has dubbed its new service TurboHD.

This new functionality is part of DISH Network's latest and “unprecedented” expansion in high definition services, which includes the rollout of TurboHD, claimed as the industry's first 100%, all-HD suite of programming packages. As previously announced, Dish will also launch 17 new national HD channels on August 1, surpassing its goal of reaching 100 national HD channels five months ahead of schedule. Dish now offers up to 114 national HD channels and plans to expand that line-up to 150 channels by the end of 2008, “made possible by the recent launch of Echo XI, the most powerful satellite in the company's fleet”.

"Over the years, Dish Network has maintained a very competitive high definition offering in the marketplace,” said a statement, “that no other pay-TV provider can come close to matching. Our latest system upgrade coupled with the introduction of TurboHD further strengthens our position as the leader in digital television and high definition television," added Charlie Ergen, Chairman, CEO and President of Dish Network.

Dish says its new HD services are supported by a proprietary system upgrade that, starting August 1, is being rolled out to all their MPEG-4 HD DVR receivers. By early August, all Dish customers with MPEG-4 HD DVR receivers will have the only set-top boxes in the nation enabled to display 1080p content, “allowing them to maximize the full potential of their 1080p-compatible HDTV sets”.

The latest national HD channels added to Dish Network's programming line-up are: ActionMax HD, CBS College Sports HD, Lifetime HD, Lifetime Movie Network HD, Planet Green HD, Encore HD, HBO 2 HD, HBO Comedy HD, HBO Family HD, HBO Latino HD, HBO Signature HD, HBO West HD, HBO Zone HD, Starz Comedy HD, Starz Edge HD, Starz Kids & Family HD, and Starz West HD.