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What exactly does Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) want to do with the 50Mbit broadband service it’s currently trialling? HD TV over the net, that’s what. Here in Cannes, it was announced the company would this month add Voom HD, a hi-def internet TV operator, to the service currently being trialled by XL package subscribers in Kent. That’s just the one, showcase channel out of Voom’s portfolio of 15 movie, kids, games and sport channels, but should serve both to test the bandwidth issues in delivering high-end TV content and to get customers used to such a proposition.
In Voom’s case, online HD means widescreen, 5.1 Dolby programming at 1080i. That company experienced something of a stillbirth after its launch as a HD satellite broadcaster in 2004 when owner Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) shut the service down after failing to find a buyer. It’s now left striking its own relationship deals. Although this is a nascent part of the indutry, the BBC last month got its trust’s approval to deliver HD TV online. So it seems possible that BBC channels could be delivered over Virgin Media’s high-speed broadband in future, for example. Virgin upgraded its top-end 10Mbit package to 20Mbit this year. This stuff will do it no harm as Ofcom consults on next-generation broadband requirements.