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UHD via satellite using HEVC

HISPASAT has launched a 4K channel using the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) compression, while Quicklink and Inmarsat have secured a contract with the European Space Agency to demonstrate HEVC ENG links.

HISPASAT has launched a 4K channel using the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) compression, while Quicklink and Inmarsat have secured a contract with the European Space Agency to demonstrate HEVC ENG links.

HISPASAT, which is aimed at the Hispanic and Portuguese markets and has a strong presence in Europe and South America, is deploying Thomson Video Networks’ ViBE VS7000 multi-screen encoding platform. The platform will deliver HEVC-encoded Ultra HD content to air via its HISPASAT 1E satellite, demonstrated live UHD video streams using the VS7000 at IBC. 

“This demonstration played an important role in our plans to promote the deployment of the most cutting-edge compression and delivery formats — giving our customers the ability to offer their viewers the absolute highest-quality viewing experience,” said Ignacio Sanchis, HISPASAT’s chief commercial officer. 

“With the Thomson Video Networks technology, we are hoping to create awareness within our customer base and deliver live Ultra HD streams that can be used in many different ways, such as demonstrating interoperability among manufacturers of TV sets and set-top boxes.”

HEVC compression promises to lower operators’ operating expenses for delivery of a wide range of convergent TV services including WebTV and OTT, as well as traditional broadcast applications. 

The ViBE VS7000 video system is Thomson’s next-generation compression platform and is claimed to provide “outstanding picture quality in an all-IP environment with live, broadcast-quality encoding, innovative video preprocessing, and faster than realtime file transcoding.”

TVN has been participating in a proof-of-concept trial with HISPASAT to demonstrate how its technologies can drive future commercial UHD services based on HEVC. The VS7000 will provide 4K file transcoding in HEVC, and Thomson Video Networks’ Sapphire transport stream server plays out the UHD HEVC-encoded content. The open-source GPAC or VLC HEVC-enabled media players are being used to decode the HEVC content for display on TV sets. 

This trial demonstration is also one of the first steps in the H2B2VS and UltraHD4U Eureka research projects where partners set up a satellite 4K HEVC transmission, paving the way for HEVC-based broadband and broadcast services.

H2B2VS ( is a Eureka Celtic-Plus research project aimed at investigating the HEVC hybrid distribution of TV programmes and services over broadcast and broadband networks. Composed of 19 partners, the consortium led by Thomson Video Networks is funded by five countries: Finland (TEKES), France (DGCIS), Spain (CDTI), Switzerland (SERI), and Turkey (Tübitak).

UltraHD4U is a Eureka Catrene research project aimed at investigating the complete UHDTV chain, from picture origination through to display devices. Composed of 14 partners, the consortium, which includes HISPASAT and Thomson Video Networks, is funded by Belgium (IWT), France (DGCIS), Spain (CDTI), and Turkey (Tübitak).

“By adding our own implementation of the new HEVC compression standard to the ViBE VS7000, Thomson Video Networks is paving the way for HD and Ultra HD content on any kind of device and any kind of network. HISPASAT is providing an important service to the media industry by proving that the technology exists today through the ViBE VS7000, and that it can be harnessed to encode 4K content in HEVC for actual Ultra HD delivery,” said Christophe Delahousse, president of Thomson Video Networks.

Besides this HEVC trial demonstration, TVN and HISPASAT have signed a wider cooperation agreement to promote Ultra HD TV jointly, including via the new HISPASAT 4K channel, which was launched at IBC.

ESA takes Quicklink to Inmarsat 

Quicklink Video Distribution is undertaking a 20-month demonstration project of a custom mobile HEVC broadcast encoder, which it will develop as part of a multimillion Euro contract supported by the European Space Agency. Broadcasters such as Al Jazeera, the BBC, BSKyB, TV2 Denmark and TVI Portugal will be evaluating and providing user feedback of the equipment in field use.

“It’s a practical, hands-on demonstration, and the development of the hardware will be based on user feedback,” said Quicklink’s sales director, Bethan Hill. The system will operate via point-to-point links or via the web. The key attraction of using HEVC for news feeds is “the expectancy that it will offer double the quality of video over H.264 on current networks.” So a link with just 650bps throughput is effectively boosted to the quality of today’s 1.3Mbps feed.

The demonstration will also use Inmarsat’s new higher-throughput networks, BGAN HDR (which allows two terminals to be bonded for twice the data rate – which with HEVC would be the equivalent of a 2.6Mbps feed of H.264). Its Global Xpress system, which uses the Ka band, can deliver up to 5Mbps (and a 50Mbps downlink), and should offer coverage of most of the world, excepting the North and South Poles, by the end of next year. 

The project also includes Global Navigation Satellite Systems to provide geo-tagged metadata to broadcasters to provide optional position location. There will also be non–satellite connectivity to provide dynamic video transmission via ADSL, WiFi, 3G and LTE.

By David Fox