World Cup will aid Freeview HD launch

Plus, Humax hoping for early roll-out

BBC s HD channel will be one of Freeview HD s launch channels

Humax's Graham North has told TechRadar believes that the roll out of Freeview HD must be carefully managed, but expressed his belief that next year's World Cup would prove to be a rallying point for the service.

Fears have been expressed that the arrival of Freeview HD would be harmed by the need for a gradual roll-out partly coinciding with the analogue switch-off and starting in the Granada television region in 2009.

However, Humax's UK commercial director Graham North believes that a rolling launch is better than waiting until everyone is ready for the new service, and confessed that he believes that other regions will be ready for Freeview HD sooner than advertised.

A big percentage

"What you will find is that it is a gradual roll out because there won't be the available bandwidth until the analogue has been switched off, explained North.

"But I think it won't necessarily be just Granada from day one, and I think that by the time we get to the World Cup there's a potential for Freeview HD to be in a big percentage of homes."

"There's potential for parts of London to get Freeview HD early," North added. "I don't think that's 100 per cent confirmed, but some of the regions will be available towards the back end of this year I think.

The majority of it will start to roll out next year with a big percentage by the World Cup and after that there will be more coming on board."

Lacking impact?

TechRadar asked North if he felt that the rolling start meant that Freeview HD would not make the kind of big splash that a nationwide launch would, and he admitted that managing the launch would be tough.

"There's a lot of discussion going on about how you launch this type of service," said North. "A soft launch is probably most sensible to start with because there will be more limited products – as always when you launch a service – and also limited regionality in the service itself."

"We have to work with broadcasters and retailers to try and make sure that we are servicing areas that are first to market with these broadcasts."

Retail woes

North continued: "It's not easy for retailers but they've done it before and they will have to look at that going forward; how they can put certain products in certain stores and not all stores," added North.

"And you will still find people living in areas that don't receive the broadcasts yet who want to buy the product because they know it will come at some point and they want to make sure it will work in the future.

"The messaging that goes out at launch from broadcasters from retailers and from us has to be very clear for the consumer about what is and isn't available at this time.

"The alternative is that we delay the service until everyone can get it and you're talking two or three years."