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Ultra HD trials gain impetus ahead of 2015 channel launches

Brazil's Globo network and the BBC will be among broadcasters showing technical demonstrations of Ultra HD coverage from the World Cup.

Brazil’s Globo network and the BBC will be among broadcasters showing technical demonstrations of Ultra HD coverage from the World Cup beginning with the round of sixteen matches on 25 June.

Already Channel 4K in Japan has kicked off the first regular 4K television service. Operated by the Next Generation Television and Broadcasting Promotion Forum (NexTV-F), the pilot service is airing six hours a day of 4K content through SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation.

Further impetus behind Ultra HD was provided by Spanish operator TeleCable which confirmed it is trialling 4K with a view to launching a service in 2015. Its CTO, Jesús Pérez Iglesias, warned that a lack of content and suitable set-top box requirements remained impediments.

“It’s important to study 4K, that is what we are doing in order to use it – probably for next year,” he said. “That is something that we are just looking at, not concentrating on implementing now.”

According to a new report by NSR, there will be close to 300 Ultra HD satellite channels on air around the world by 2023. NSR suggests that the first Ultra HD channels to DTH homes will start in late 2015 to be followed by “exceptional growth” as consumers become aware of the format.

According to NSR, DTH platforms are likely to use Ultra HD as a key differentiator against terrestrial competitors. “Over 3.1 million Ultra HD TV sets were shipped in 2013, despite a lack of Ultra HD channels being broadcast yet, with the exception of a handful of demo channels, as well as some limited content via IPTV and YouTube,” noted Alan Crisp, NSR analyst.

The DVB meanwhile is promoting the capabilities of DVB-T2 to deliver HEVC-encoded Ultra HD and mobile TV in a single channel. In what it dubs a “groundbreaking demo,” DVB-T2 was shown at Broadcast Asia delivering a wide range of resolutions from Ultra HD down to the smaller screen resolutions for mobile devices including smartphones with content encoded by Envivio.

Using the second-generation terrestrial transmission standard, an HEVC encoded UHD service and a mobile service are being delivered in a single 8MHz channel.

During the French Open tennis tournament last month the first 4K transmissions over DTT were made using H.265 HEVC compression. There was coverage of various matches from the Philippe Chatrier Court broadcast by TDF and TNT in DVB-T2 – read more on the story here.

“Envivio provided an outstanding contribution for the debut of live 4K HEVC video transmissions over a DTT network at the French Open,” said Alain Komly, TDF deputy director. “The sharpness and rich quality of the video is absolutely stunning, and we are excited to present this emerging technology for the first time in France.”