Digital set-top rumours enter realms of fantasy

Digital set-top rumours enter realms of fantasy
Melanie Reynolds Reports of plans to introduce cheap digital TV set-top boxes have been described as “utter rubbish” by BSkyB. “I think we’re entering the realms of fantasy,” said a BSkyB spokesman. “There’s no truth at all to it.” The reports stated that a ?99 box would be offered by BSkyB and BT in a move designed to push interactive services and boost digital TV subscriptions. Other speculation included plans backed by ONdigital for a basic ?25 box which would give access to free-to-air services only. Set-top box manufacturer Pace Micro Technology also dismissed the reports as “very unlikely”. “Set-top boxes are very complex items,” said a spokeswoman. The price of the boxes is currently subsidised by the broadcasters and includes not only components and R&D costs but royalties as well. “I think the type of cost reductions we’re talking about here are unrealistic,” she said. However, ONdigital believes that a cheap terrestrial box will be possible in ten years’ time. “The odds are the technology is going to get cheaper and cheaper,” said a spokesman. “But it’s all a long, long way down the line.” Pace is concentrating its development efforts on supporting interactive services. “Our research shows that people want more high specification boxes,” said the Pace spokeswoman who pointed out that increasing functionality and reducing prices do not go hand-in-hand.


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