Sky Picnic will allow customers to pick any mixture of TV, broadband and telephone services, with the TV content being delivered using the digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform.
The actual launch of the Picnic service is still dependent on approval from Ofcom due to the delivery method for the three TV channels. To receive the TV service will require a new set-top box (even if you already own a FreeView box). Each channel will initially be a MPEG-2 stream, switching to MPEG-4 once approved by Ofcom. The channels will include Sky One, Sky Movies, Sky Sports 1, a children's channel and a factual channel. Importantly the new set-top boxes will still allow access to existing FreeView channels.
The advantage of MPEG-4 over MPEG-2 is that you can provide a better quality picture for the same amount of data transferred, or alternately keep the quality the same and fit more channels onto a service.
Unlike Sky satellite TV there will be no subsidisation of the set-top boxes and while Sagem is the initial manufacturer other set-top box manufacturers are expected to produce boxes.
Interestingly there is a hint of something happening in the PC arena, with a comment about Picnic being available 'on future generations of PCs'. Precisely what this means is a mystery, but may refer to a DTT tuner that works with a PC.
Those keen to learn more can register at www.picnicnews.com for more info.