I too would like to see VOOM only concentrate on HD. I think it should be used as an add on service for HD programming. I think you need either a cable or other DBS account for the SD's. Let's see VOOM concentrate on getting the most HD channels they can get.
I am also of the opinion that Voom should be primarily an HD service. We have many choices for SD; Dish, DirecTV or cable. I would be an upset customer if at some future time Voom could not add new HD channels because of the bandwidth allocated to SD channels. I am concerned that too much bandwidth has already been allocated to SD.
The problem with HD only is that eventually both Dish and DIRECTV will catch up in HDTV if they see VOOM working at all.
By the end of January (Feb/Mar probably for DIRECTV because of D-7s launch) I see both Dish and Direct having 10 HDTV channels, and probably by the end of 2004 15+ channels.
Given the very limited transponder space of VOOM, it will be hard for them to add a lot more HDTV channels, they need more satellites/transponders.
VOOM has 11 transponders + 2 on loan, or 13. Dish has 50 CONUS, 49 Wing, 64 Ku-FSS (equivalent 24FSS=32DBS). Dish has the same 8PSK technology. MPEG-4 upgrade on VOOM will probably net them some capacity, especially on the 10 preencoded movie channels, it is doubtful on live content.
VOOM has to offer SD channels to compete, the HD alone will not be enough, E*/D* will make sure that they stay competitive in HDTV, that combined with all the most watched cable and LIL will make customers go with E*/D* over HD only VOOM.
I agree with your assessment that eventually VOOM will need more TP to compete, but I look at it this way.
Out of the 21 channels:
(1) they downsize the Cinema 10 to 5 or 1 which will give them some space.
(2) MOOV-HD: they could remove this channel. That's additional space.
(3) Ultra-HD & Gallery-HD, they can probably combine into a new channel which will give them an extra channel.
(4) Rush-HD and WorldSport-HD they can probably also combine and save one more channel.
(5) With the implementation of MPEG-4, it could bring an additional 11 channels by 2005.
So VOOM can add:
Let's say 5 (from the Cinema 10 downsizing) + 2 channels (from combining) + 1 (getting rid of MOOV) + 11 (from adding MPEG-4) = 19 additional channels. I am sure they will not stop here and will try to get more TP. We can all speculate but time will tell who will be the leader in 2004 or 2005. However, today or by 2/1/04 VOOM could be the HD leader. I find E* and D* too preocupied in bringing SD compressed locals to customers and leaving the HD enthusiasts behind. I hope E* adds those HD channels but I have heard the same promise many times and no HD channels.
The Cinema 10 is the best thing they have to provide lots of channels at low bandwidth. They probably run those channels at 8 MBIT/sec. They can do this because they have the movies in advance and can do huge compression on them.
Given the limits of 8PSK (they are running 22million symbol rate with 5/6 FEC plus 188/204EC) or 50.6 mbit/second per transponder. If they run full live 1080i feeds at 19mbit/sec that leaves 2/transponder or 26 total feeds. This leaves 12.2 mbit/sec on each transponder for "extras" These extras could be a Cinema 10 or standard definition channels.
The Cinema 10 are good filler, they cannot be traded away for a full 19.2mbit/sec feed unless you want to compress the HDTV feed like DIRECTV tried.
Now it is possible today to do sat muxing and squeeze 3/transponder (by hoping all three feeds do not need 19.2 at the same time and average less than 16.8mbit/sec, probably rare that it would happen). This would give 39 HDTV channels capacity.
Love the concept, but beg to differ. If they went strictly HD, they would go down in flames. With their competition offering more HD all the time (and they will eventually) and having the standard line-up also, people won't go to VOOM.
Most of us tech types and early adopters might go for it, but the masses are no going to subscribe to 2 services, especially if one of them will give them the best of both world's.
In fact, If I end up paying $100/month to VOOM (which I plan to) I'm wouldn't want to plunk down another $50 and another dish just to pick up the standard line-up from someone else. Nope. I'm content with VOOM giving as much HD as possible, and the SD broadcasts also.
It's great to be gung ho, but we have to be realistic. I'm a lucky one who's VOOM has worked nearly flawlessly. I want it to succeed.