This week Sky launched its new Sky Text service on Freeview using technology from Strategy & Technology Ltd. S&T provided the interactive application using the MHEG-5 interactive standard used on the UK's DTT platform and the software to translate the output of SysMedia's Plasma Magenta system into data for transmission. Sky also deployed S&T's TSBroadcaster system to provide the carousel of application and data for the broadcast.
The MHEG application was designed by Sky and S&T to provide very similar features to the Sky Text application that runs on Sky's DTH satellite platform. On Freeview, the application is available in association with three channels, Sky News, Sky Travel and Sky Sports News. It has hundreds of pages of data, many updated every few minutes through the day and users can navigate the service via the traditional text service 'page number' method to access information.
Sky commissioned S&T to build the MHEG-5 application for the DTT platform, aiming to provide a high level of interoperability with the various receivers in the field. It was tested on the large range of DTT set top boxes in S&T's in-house set top box farm. The application was also tested at DTG Testing Ltd which provides an independent test facility for both applications and receivers.
Users who have seen the service during the test phase have been positive, welcoming the features and speed of the service.
David Cutts, Director of S&T said, "This is a leading-edge application using the MHEG standard, and it is supported by Sky's exemplary data provision infrastructure. It has been a pleasure working with Sky's professional technology and interactive services teams on this complex project which has taken about two years from conception to launch."
Sky has also deployed the MHEG version of S&T's TSBroadcaster system for creating Object Carousels for broadcast. This is used in MHP and OCAP interactive systems in Europe and the USA, as well as in the MHEG system in the UK. The set-up for Sky provides for high reliability of operation, with redundant systems in order to help ensure that the service stays on air all the time.
David Klein, General Manager of Sky Text, said, "S&T's team has done an outstanding job of building this application for us. They have provided key technology and expertise and we have now launched what we expect to be a commercially successful application."
BARB estimates that DTT receivers are deployed in 3.7 million UK households. Sky Text will be fully available in virtually all of them.