Who will win the HD war? It's not clear

Dish Network planning to offer 150 high-def channels

NEW YORK -- The high-definition TV battle among telcos, cable and satellite providers is heating up.

Dish Network will unveil Thursday that it plans to offer up to 150 national HD channels by year's end after crossing the 100-channel mark months ahead of plan as of this Friday.

The company is starting to roll out TurboHD, a suite of HD-only program packages that start at a monthly price of $24.99 and makes Dish the first U.S. pay TV player to offer HD programming in 1080p. That is the highest HD resolution available and the format used by Sony's Blu-ray DVDs.

On Wednesday, Comcast said that it plans to go "all digital" in 20% of its markets by year's end to free up bandwidth to offer more HD channels. Earlier in the year, it said that an average Comcast user could get 50-60 HD channels by the end of 2008.

On Monday, telco giant Verizon formally launched its FiOS TV service in New York City with the promise of 100 HD channels, something it hopes will be a draw for local cable subscribers with fewer HD options.

Later that day, DirecTV said it's boosting its HD lineup to 130 channels starting Aug. 14. It also announced its own 1080p launch for later this year and said a satellite launch next year will allow it to expand its offerings to 200 national HD channels.

Then there's Cablevision, which is adding 15 HD channels this week to reach the 60-channel milestone.

So who's the boss of HD?

"Our latest system upgrade coupled with the introduction of TurboHD further strengthens our position as the leader in digital television and high-definition television, platforms we look forward to enhancing even more with mobile and portable options," Dish chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen said.

And this from Derek Chang, exec vp content strategy and development at DirecTV: "Despite all the sound and fury of confusing HD claims from our competitors, our customers understand that DirecTV is the destination for the most compelling and complete lineup of HD content."
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