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Thoughts on the MPEG4 receiver evolution (long)


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18 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   bavaria72

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Posted 09 April 2005 - 02:43 PM

Please allow me a little latitude here. So it seems that E* has somewhat developed an upgrade strategy for their HD DVR product. The 942 seems the vehicle they will go with so I’m fairly confidant in assuming that an MEG4 variant of the 942 is currently in some type of initial testing. Based on what I have read so far, it seems the 942 (being developed in house vs. the 921 that was outsourced) is a fairly stable product. Of course there will be glitches but lets face it the lines between these receivers and computers have blurred to the point that there will always be issues due to the complexity of the hardware/software. So I see a 921 - to 942 MPEG2 - to a 942 MPEG4 variant evolution probably occurring. I personally don’t think MPEG4 programming is going to be readily available for at least a year and even then what are we talking? ESPN2 and a couple of other channels? So I could see no compelling reason to get an MPEG4 box for upwards of 2 years. Of course my view point is from a person that gets all of their local HD channels OTA, those who can’t get locals OTA will definitely be clamoring for MPEG4 locals ASAP (See! I am thinking about our brothers and sisters in the boonies!) Regardless I still plan to lease a 942 instead of buying one because I’m fairly certain E* will offer an upgrade to the MPEG4 box ($10 bucks says it will be another $250 or so upgrade cost) when the time comes. In my mind E* has a corporate responsibility to offer a reduced upgrade cost for the 942 to those people who have the 921s. There can’t be that many out there so it would buy E* a whole lot of good press vs. all of the bad press if they leave them out to dry. Of course it will come down to a business decision and the bean counters from E* may say that the 921 owners only make up ½% of the subs and it would be more financially sound to blow them off and suck up the fallout rather than making the financial commitment to upgrade them.

So if you buy into my “logic” regarding the HD DVR, E* has it under “control”. However my real question is what the heck is E* going to do about the 811? I seem to remember seeing somewhere that there is something like 2.5 million of them out there right now and growing everyday. It would be interesting to see the breakdown between owned vs. leased. I would figure more are leased than owned. E* is going to have a huge financial/public relation issue on their hands regarding the 811 and MPEG4 programming if they aren’t careful. It is one thing to deal with “X” number of 921 owners (942 MPER2 owners will have an upgrade path available to them) but with the 811 you are talking about (if my 2.5M number is right) 20 to 25% of your Customers (and growing). In 12 to18 months the MPEG4 channels will be rolling out and those owners will want access to that programming. Has anyone heard anything about E*s thoughts on what they are going to do? I’m sure D* has the same issue with their standard HD receiver. It would seem to make sense to base the replacement of the 811 on the 942 MPEG4 platform but without the DVR piece and the second sat. tuner. However what type of offering will they make to their Customers? I could see E* offering a low cost upgrade (say $50 t o$75) for folks leasing the 811 and basically stick it to us who bought one. E* had better be damn careful on how they are going to handle the MPEG4 issue regarding the 811. I hope they have a really good public relation firm on board to help. Just something to toss around on a lazy Saturday.
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#2 OFFLINE   larrystotler

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Posted 09 April 2005 - 07:21 PM

Very well thought out.

However, there is currently NO upgrade option for the 942 for EXISTING subscribers. The $249 upgrade is for NEW DHA Subs, not current customers. Considering it took a full year before the 522 was even offer via the DishNItUp program, I would not count on the 942 being available anytime soon other than for an outright purchase.
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#3 OFFLINE   SimpleSimon

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Posted 09 April 2005 - 09:50 PM

... those who can’t get locals OTA will definitely be clamoring for MPEG4 locals ASAP (See! I am thinking about our brothers and sisters in the boonies!) ...

Well close. We want MPEG-2 distant nets ASAP.

THAT is doable, while MPEG-4 HD LiL is at least 5 years out.
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#4 OFFLINE   purwater

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Posted 09 April 2005 - 10:47 PM

When E* goes to MPEG4 will everyone have to get new equipment or will they continue to stream the MPEG2 to everyone? Or will it be more like HD in that if you want it you'll have to get the new receivers to benefit? I'd hate to start replacing 5 receivers out of my pocket. I'd rather have the chance to maybe replace one receiver at a time gradually while using my current ones.
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#5 OFFLINE   larrystotler

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 04:36 AM

The plan is to replace ALL receivers and switch everything to MPEG4. However, they will have to do an upgrade that will pretty much make most of it free. They may switch you to dual or quad tuner boxes though, so you may end up with less of a bill. They are also rumored to make all the new boxes DVRs like D* is rumored to do.
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#6 OFFLINE   bavaria72

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 07:07 AM

Well close. We want MPEG-2 distant nets ASAP.

THAT is doable, while MPEG-4 HD LiL is at least 5 years out.


Does E* have enough satellite capacity to match their current SD LIL offerings with HD MPEG2 LIL? I think 5 years is too long but I can easily see 2 or 3 years before HD MPEG4 LILs are at a significant level.
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#7 OFFLINE   bavaria72

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 07:12 AM

... However, they will have to do an upgrade that will pretty much make most of it free...


I think E* will try to get folks to pay some type of an upgrade fee instead of just giving them away. If they can get the average 811 leasor to fork out $50 or $75 they would help defray the cost of the swapout. I really don't see old Charlie just giving the new MPEG4 boxes away. This is going to be very interesting to see how it unfolds.
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#8 OFFLINE   bavaria72

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 07:17 AM

Very well thought out..


Thanks but it hurt real bad! :lol:

... I would not count on the 942 being available anytime soon other than for an outright purchase.


Boy, I sure hope you are wrong on this. I saw some speculation (perhaps just hopeful wishing) that E* will start to offer 942 leasing to existing subs in May or June as production ramps up. I could probably come up with $250 (selling the kids for science experiments, etc..) but $700 is just too rich for my blood.
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#9 OFFLINE   tonyp56

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 09:24 AM

Boy, I sure hope you are wrong on this. I saw some speculation (perhaps just hopeful wishing) that E* will start to offer 942 leasing to existing subs in May or June as production ramps up. I could probably come up with $250 (selling the kids for science experiments, etc..) but $700 is just too rich for my blood.


$250 for the privlage to lease a 942? I don't think so, if I am going to shell out that much money I better own the equipment. Now I would not pay $700 dollars to own the 942 either, but $250 just to lease it, I don't think so.
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#10 OFFLINE   SimpleSimon

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 09:48 AM

Does E* have enough satellite capacity to match their current SD LIL offerings with HD MPEG2 LIL? I think 5 years is too long but I can easily see 2 or 3 years before HD MPEG4 LILs are at a significant level.

No, they don't. Not by a long shot.

Remember, HD transmission takes around 4-7 times as much bandwidth. 3 HD on a transponder vs. as many as 12 SD. The "7" is from the 921's SD/HD disk space ratio.

We'll see some HD LiL in a couple of years, but only a very few. Tunaboy simply doesn't care - as shown by his failure to follow through on the NY & LA HD feeds for ABC, NBC, FOX, etc.

As the industry follower in HD service, he won't do anything until D* takes a whole bunch of his customers.

#11 OFFLINE   rocatman

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 10:31 AM

No, they don't. Not by a long shot.

Remember, HD transmission takes around 4-7 times as much bandwidth. 3 HD on a transponder vs. as many as 12 SD. The "7" is from the 921's SD/HD disk space ratio.

We'll see some HD LiL in a couple of years, but only a very few. Tunaboy simply doesn't care - as shown by his failure to follow through on the NY & LA HD feeds for ABC, NBC, FOX, etc.

As the industry follower in HD service, he won't do anything until D* takes a whole bunch of his customers.


Don't forget about the advantage of using MPEG-4. Using it provides 2 to 3 times more capacity than MPEG-2 so instead of 3 HD channels/TP, you now have 6 to 9 HD channels/TP. Now consider the spotbeam capabilities of Rainbow-1. It has 130 spotbeam TPs. To be conservative, assume that Dish can only use about 100 of these TPs so with MPEG-4, that's 600 to 900 HD channels. Admittedly this no where near the number of SD locals that Dish provides but it is a good start. From these numbers you can see why the Rainbow-1 satellite is so valuable and what a steal of a deal Dish made in purchasing it.

#12 OFFLINE   Jacob S

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 05:32 PM

Charlie and Direct will either give us our MPEG-4 hardware for little or nothing (probably will have to give many of the folks the receivers for nothing) or lose their subscribers to cable. They know this, they will have to just accept it as a cost of keeping their subscribers. Who are the consumers going to go to if one is offering the same thing for a lot less? They are going to the cheaper provider where they do not have to pay as much upfront even if it is a little more per month.

#13 OFFLINE   SimpleSimon

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 08:09 PM

Don't forget about the advantage of using MPEG-4. Using it provides 2 to 3 times more capacity than MPEG-2 so instead of 3 HD channels/TP, you now have 6 to 9 HD channels/TP. Now consider the spotbeam capabilities of Rainbow-1. It has 130 spotbeam TPs. To be conservative, assume that Dish can only use about 100 of these TPs so with MPEG-4, that's 600 to 900 HD channels. Admittedly this no where near the number of SD locals that Dish provides but it is a good start. From these numbers you can see why the Rainbow-1 satellite is so valuable and what a steal of a deal Dish made in purchasing it.

I'll believe the 3x bandwidth factor when it actually appears, and I'll believe the 100 transponders when I see a LOT more uplink centers to drive them.

But yes, E* STOLE the bird from V* - he's good at that.
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DishDVR 921, B: 120B, F: F051, V: L211HECD-N@04-Dec-07, L212@05-Mar-01, L213@Apr-01, L215@Jun-29, L216@Jul-23, L218@Jul-28, L219@Aug-11, L270@Sep-14, L272@Oct-28, L273@Dec-08, L274@Mar-08, L275@Mar-23, L276HECD-N@06-Mar-31.
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#14 OFFLINE   larrystotler

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 09:37 PM

Can't blame him for moving in for the kill when it was obvious that V* was going to go away anyway. It's definately cheaper for him that putting up a new system from scratch. Now, if we can just get him to use the darn thing for something useful, like to get all these HD "whiners" some digital locals for their primetime HD......... :D
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#15 OFFLINE   SimpleSimon

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 11:05 PM

... Now, if we can just get him to use the darn thing for something useful, like to get all these HD "whiners" some digital locals for their primetime HD......... :D

:D :up: :lol:

#16 OFFLINE   bavaria72

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 08:05 AM

... like to get all these HD "whiners" some digital locals for their primetime HD......... :D


AMEN!!!! :lol:
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#17 OFFLINE   dmodemd

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 09:29 AM

I think Charlie knows its going to be awhile before MPEG4 can roll out (2 years or so...) but he can't say that and bum out the investors who are expecting aggressiveness.

I think the 942 is safe for that 2 years, the usual time before a reciever becomes obsolete anyway. The main question I have in my mind is will it have any resale value after 2 years and is it a better deal to go lease?

#18 OFFLINE   bavaria72

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 10:24 AM

... 2 years and is it a better deal to go lease?


The $250 question. I say lease.
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#19 OFFLINE   the_bear

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 11:46 AM

I'll believe the 3x bandwidth factor when it actually appears, and I'll believe the 100 transponders when I see a LOT more uplink centers to drive them.


Since much HD content originates on film, the transition to mpg4 would also be a good time to reverse 3:2 pull-down and de-interlace before encoding in H.264. That would also significantly reduced the band-width requirement. Web based video on demand providers are already doing this.




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