E*'s 10Q offers some hope ... mentioning HD in MPEG4 by the end of the year or early 2006. Seeing that 2006 is only eight weeks away I'll go for "early 2006".
I'm not buying any new receivers until MPEG4. Each person will have to make their own decision.
here's the article from Sky Retailer
DISH Prepares For New Technology
The nation's No. 2 satellite TV company is preparing new technologies intended to wow its customers and close the gap between itself and its competitor.
In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing released Tuesday, EchoStar said that beginning later this year or early 2006 it intends to make MPEG-4 technology standard in all satellite TV receivers for new customers who subscribe to high-def programming packages. The technology will result in bandwidth efficiencies over time, the company said.
EchoStar also revealed that it's implementing 8PSK technology, which also will help improve bandwidth efficiency and significantly increase the number of channels the DISH Network DBS service can transmit over existing satellites. The company said new channels added to its service using only that technology may allow for a further reduction of conversion costs and create additional revenue opportunities.
"We have not yet determined the extent to which we will convert the EchoStar DBS System to these new technologies, or the period of time over which the conversions will occur," the company said in the SEC filing. If a new satellite, EchoStar X, launches during 2006 and other planned satellites are successfully deployed, the 8PSK transition "will afford us greater flexibility in delaying and reducing the costs to convert our subscriber base to MPEG-4," the company said.
EchoStar also reported that during the third quarter it added about 255,000 net new subscribers to DISH Network during the third quarter, taking the customer total to 11.71 million customers.