Astra offers HD+ to existing HD households

Jörn Krieger

Satellite operator SES Astra wants to offer existing HDTV households in Germany the opportunity of receiving its planned platform HD+.

According to spokesman Markus Payer, set-top-boxes and TV sets with conventional common interface slots (CI) will be able to receive the service through a software update. So-called legacy models will then enable reception of the channels offered on HD+, with the advantage that existing HDTV households will not need to buy new reception devices.

Within the industry it is estimated that more than half a million HDTV set-top-boxes have been sold in Germany so far, but how many of those have CI and can be upgraded is not known.

The first manufacturers to offer the software updates are TechniSat and Humax - others could follow. “The solution for the current generation of CI slots is also open to other manufacturers,“ said Payer, stressing, however, that this was only intended as an interim solution to bridge the gap between CI Plus and CI. “We continue to give our full support to the new generation CI Plus, which represents the future of open interfaces.”

Payer explained that CI Plus fulfilled the requirements of rights dealers, for example for Hollywood movies or large sporting events, regarding signal protection and security standards in digital television. “It’s a necessary step for the industry,” he said.

HD+ will launch in late autumn on Astra (19.2° East) with RTL and VOX on board, followed in January 2010 by Sat.1, ProSieben and kabel eins. The platform, which is open to further broadcasters, will be encrypted in Nagravision with viewers having to pay a reception fee. “HD+ provides a neutral infrastructure aimed at all TV broadcasters,” explained Payer. “We hope to have more channels on board for the launch.”