The BBC is beckoning 450 volunteers in London to take part in a six month trial of high-def digital terrestrial telly broadcasts on Freeview.
The lucky chosen few will be given a special set top box to receive the high-def broadcasts through their rooftop aerial.
Telewest [story here] has already pipped Aunty Beeb to the post, launching the UK’s first HDTV service well ahead of the competition, and Sky is hopping on the bandwagon in May [story here] with the seductive offer of seven HD channels.
But Aunty is unperturbed, getting all four terrestrial broadcasters on the case with World Cup coverage from the BBC and ITV, and a bunch of other programmes including Wimbledon matches, Planet Earth and Bleak House.
Don’t get too excited just yet, though - the trial is actually a closed technical test, the soul purpose of which is to see ‘what if’ rather than ‘when’.
So, why London? Well, apparently, in the metropolis, the Beeb has permission to use one or two non-commercial frequencies at very low power. This means the HD signals can reach a wider number of homes without interfering with existing channels.
This is pretty important given that the major problem for high-def on Freeview at the moment is that until 2012, when the plug is finally pulled on analogue, there just won’t be a great enough bandwidth to carry the titan telly format.. One analogue channel takes up the same space as four to six standard-def digital channels.
To get involved you’ll have to be the proud owner of a HD-ready telly. So, if you don’t want to miss the action of a single hair on Rooney’s head, you’d better up sticks to London and buy a fancy telly quicksmart.
If you fit the bill you can apply at www.bbc.co.uk/digital. You’ve got four weeks, so get your skates on.