& cplSiteName &

Nothing's Going to Stop 4K

Brian Santo
5/27/2016
50%
50%

AUSTIN, Texas -- Big Communications Event -- Every TV technology transition arrives with the same set of circumstances that suppress the initial rate of adoption: Sales of the requisite new displays remain low as long as content remains lacking, but the incentive for alleviating that lack remains low as long as the new displays aren't selling in big numbers.

The commercialization of ultra high definition (UHD, also known as 4K TV) video comes with some unique additional considerations that may also check initial progress toward wider adoption -- albeit only briefly -- including questions about how to implement associated high dynamic range (HDR) technology and a bit of wobbliness in the codec market that might complicate UHD streaming, according to the panelists at the BCE panel entitled "All the Way with 4K?"

The chicken-and-egg situation with displays and content gets resolved in a similar fashion every time. Display makers rely on early adopters to buy the first few systems, a few content providers hoping to gain some prestige from being first to deliver the new video format make a few shows in that format available, wildly popular sporting events are broadcast in the new format encouraging sports fans to buy new sets, at which point the ball is rolling and market expansion at an accelerating rate is virtually guaranteed.

We're nearing that point now, according to Heavy Reading Analyst Alan Breznick, citing projections that there may be as many as 77 million connected UHD-enabled TVs sold around the world by the end of this year, growing to 371 million by the end of 2019. Meanwhile, the number of 4K services being introduced or announced are also beginning to accumulate, from companies, including:

  • Sony (movies)
  • Univision (sports)
  • Netflix (movies, concerts)
  • Amazon (various content)
  • AT&T/DirecTV (movies, sports)
  • Comcast (various content)
  • Dish Network (various content)
  • Rogers (sports)
  • BT (sports)
  • Videotron (various content)

Charles Meubus, senior director of video technology at Videotron Ltd. , said 4K TV is still nascent, limited by number of 4K sets installed so far, but that doesn't limit rollout of new set-top boxes that can support the format. Videotron is doing exactly that. "It future-proofs our installed base," he said, adding, "These set-tops provide an exceptional end-user experience."

South Korea is one of the most active markets for 4K. There are several providers competing with 4K services, and Alticast Corp. is working with all of them. Alticast US vice president of business development Jae Park said there was a greater than expected uptake of set-top boxes in South Korea.


Want to know more about the latest developments in the video services business? Check out our dedicated video channel here on Light Reading.


The improvement in video quality going from standard definition (SD) to high definition (HD) was substantial, but the improvement going from HD to UHD is not nearly as dramatic, noticeable only under limited circumstances that include sitting roughly ten feet from the screen -- not much less and not much more. The more stunning improvements derive from HDR, including greater contrast and more vivid imagery.

But there are several ways to implement HDR, and companies such as Videotron are thrown off by potential compatibility issues.

Kerry Sims, vice president, global solutions & smart infrastructure at Hitachi Consulting, noted that you get a wider color gamut, with deeper blacks and whiter whites.

Park said that in Korea, "we find 4K and HDR to complement each other. But there are still some questions about compatibility."

The other great thing about HDR, Meubus said, was that while the benefits of 4K are noticeable only on large screens, HDR is an improvement no matter the size of the screen. And yet. "There are some compatibility issues. We're a bit cautious about making a move before those issues are settled."

Sims noted it is feasible to remaster 1080p content. That will probably happen quicker to ensure a bigger library of HDR content faster. "It will give people who have access to HDR screens a better experience," he said.

UHD files are naturally larger than HD files, so compression is key. Meubus said that when Videotron started delivering UHD it required 32-35 Mbit/s for the live channel the company provides. The company worked that down to 25 Mbit/s or even to 20 Mbit/s, depending on the source of the video, he said. On the VOD side, the company started at 25 Mbit/s, and is trying to get it down to 19 Mbit/s.

Netflix, Park noted, can distribute 4K in 15 Mbit/s, but for sports the bandwidth required is going to be higher. "HEVC becomes critical to enabling these services," he said.

A potential problem with that, however, Sims noted, is that the H.265 group is having trouble reaching consensus on royalties, holding up the licensing of HEVC. The holdup is encouraging companies to investigate alternatives. One is Perseus, which developer V-Nova claims can compress 4K video down to the 7-10 Mbit/s range. Google has its VP10 codec, and Cisco has codec called Thor; the company might have a royalty-free version in 2017, Sims said.

Even with those concerns, little is going to impede the growth of the 4K market for long, the panelists agreed.

— Brian Santo, Senior Editor, Components, T&M, Light Reading

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/1/2016 | 2:37:02 PM
Re: UltraFlix compression rates codec 265
Yes other that DirecTV, I don't think there's really any plans to seriously support 4K broadcasts this year, and I don't even think Comcast's full 4K set top will be even ready until 2017. Definitely a long game we're looking at here. Will be curious if Amazon and Netflix's early implementations pay any real dividends, or if consumers really couldn't care less. 
brooks7
50%
50%
brooks7,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/31/2016 | 5:57:16 PM
Re: UltraFlix compression rates codec 265
Just a note, my Comcast area doesn't even deliver 1080p.  It delivers 1080i.

The question really boils down to the effectiveness of personal screens versus yet another upgrade of the big screen.

seven

 
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/31/2016 | 5:39:47 PM
Re: UltraFlix compression rates codec 265
We should see a good bump here as game console vendors announce console updates that can stream video in 4K -- if not actually play games in 4K.
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/30/2016 | 5:34:19 PM
Re: UltraFlix compression rates codec 265
I believe 4K will follow a similar path as HD did. It will gain adoption via sports fans looking for better experiences at home. This is exactly what HD did: cater to hardcore sports fans. By cultivating fanatics, the technology can get through the early adopter stage. 
Aviation37222
100%
0%
Aviation37222,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/30/2016 | 3:09:02 PM
UltraFlix compression rates codec 265
No content provider out there comes close to UltraFlix in streaming rates. They can stream lossless 4K at between 4-6Mb. No even Netflix comes close nor quality of content movies. ULTRAFLIX is the next big name in 4K!
From The Founder
Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Let's Get Past SD-WAN Hype

6|23|17   |   04:02   |   (0) comments


Technology becomes a "shiny object" unless it's properly focused on solving business needs for enterprise customers, says Bill Grubbs, network solutions architect for CenturyLink. He explains to Light Reading why SD-WAN deployments have to be tailored to specific needs – and more.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Infinera's Sales Director Paints Tech's Big Picture

6|21|17   |   4:14   |   (1) comment


Shannon Williams, Infinera's director of sales, shares how she achieves work's many balancing acts -- between her role and the broader company, today and tomorrow's tech and more.
LRTV Custom TV
SD-WAN Innovation & Trends

6|20|17   |     |   (0) comments


Versa CEO Kelly Ahuja discusses with Carol Wilson the current status and trends in the SD-WAN market, Versa's innovation around building a software platform with broad contextualization, and the advantages that startups can bring to the SD-WAN market.
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Dario Talmesio on 5G in Europe

6|20|17   |   02:16   |   (0) comments


At 5G World 2017, Dario Talmesio, principal analyst and practice leader on Ovum's fixed and mobile telecoms European team, explains the emerging trends amongst European operators as they prepare for 5G.
LRTV Custom TV
Putting Power on a Pedestal

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


ARRIS's John Ulm says a major accomplishment of SCTE•ISBE's Energy 2020 program is increased focus on power cost and consumption, including inclusion of energy requirements in operators' RFPs and RFIs.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit Access: The Last-Mile Pipe for All Future Services

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


A Gigabit access platform being deployed today must be able to deliver all types of services to an increasing number of devices. A non-blocking architecture is necessary to support the ever-increasing growth in bandwidth demand. The Huawei Gigabit access solution is based on a distributed design that is fully scalable to deliver a unprecedented performance.
LRTV Custom TV
Key Factors to Successfully Deploy an SD-WAN Service

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


As service providers transition their SD-WAN solution from trials and limited deployments into production at large scale, there are important considerations to successfully operationalize these solutions and realize their full potential, without adding complexity, introducing uncertainty or disrupting current business operations. Sunil Khandekar, CEO and Founder ...
LRTV Custom TV
IoT Solutions: Rational Exuberance

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


IoT solutions are morphing from hype into viable business opportunities. Huawei has the platform and ecosystem support to help carriers successfully address new business opportunities in the IoT space.
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing ICN as a Network Slice for Mobile Data Distribution

6|19|17   |     |   (1) comment


Network slicing in 5G allows the potential introduction of new network architectures such as Information-centric Networks (ICN) as a slice, managed over a shared pool of compute, storage and bandwidth resource. Services over an ICN slice can benefit from many architectural features such as Name Based Networking, Security, Multicasting, Multi-homing, Mobility, ...
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Mike Roberts on 5G Uptake

6|19|17   |   04:08   |   (0) comments


Mike Roberts, research director for Ovum's service provider markets group, explains why he has boosted his 5G subscriptions forecast.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Hubbard on Intersection of SD-WAN & MPLS

6|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


Rick Hubbard, SVP of Network Product Management for AT&T Business Solutions, discusses how AT&T's approach to SD-WAN fits in with its overall virtualization strategy, explains how SD-WAN can improve enterprise customers' use of the cloud and addresses the intersection of SD-WAN and MPLS.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Keep Connected IoT Devices Under Control With Allot

6|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


Allot AVP of International Pre-Sales, Daniel Keidar, explains how communications service providers can protect infrastructure and service availability from flooding attacks caused by malfunctioning or bot-infected devices connected to their network.
Upcoming Live Events
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Netflix's Lesson in Culture Expectation Settings
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
No Imagination: UK Chip Biz Goes Up for Sale
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/22/2017
Kalanick Steps Down as Uber CEO
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
BT Tech Chief Makes Plea to 5G Chip Vendors
Ray Le Maistre, International Group Editor, 6/20/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.