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BT talking up the possibility of 4K video streaming
Wednesday 05 February 2014 10:05:59 by Andrew Ferguson

When 4K video was first discussed bit rates of 100 Mbps were mentioned to stream the images but that has quickly come down to around 15 Mbps as new more efficient codecs become available. A lot of the time 4K is still touted as the reason why we as a nation need to deploy Fibre to the Premises, but the reality is that the vast majority of FTTC based connections will support one or two 4K video feeds (the marketing world seems to be calling it ultra-HD).

Step forward the new CEO of BT, Gavin Patterson who is hinting at 4K feeds for BT Sport. Before that small percentage of you who actually own a 4K TV set get excited at even better detail to the grass on the football pitches, we have not seen any information to suggest the multi-cast system used by Openreach fibre products is ready to handle 4K feeds or any sign of 4K support in YouView set-top boxes. The reality we suspect is that the people in the edit suites and broadcast centres are starting to use 4K hardware for the various stages in the video production cycle.

Video while appearing to be a big driver for many people to get faster broadband, still appears to lag in the adoption of HD, with many millions on 720p and 1080p HD televisions it is still the case that people are not watching HD as the standard feed.

If you are thinking of spending £3,000 on a 4K TV we would recommend finding one with HDMI 2.0 inputs, the more common HDMI 1.4 can only support standard frame rates of 24 or 30 fps.

For those trying to sell faster and faster broadband, given the economic climate there is the real risk of putting people off of buying faster broadband services, if the marketing gives the perception that its all about 4K TV. The price of the television and lack of content will see people question whether this is just another snake oil sales pitch or assume it is something meant for households in the top tax rate bracket.

Netflix with its extra quality HD videos in its streaming service is showing a much more sane marketing strategy, i.e. plan for 4K but really push and market the service that millions can actually use and hopefully see the benefit from. The key thing is that unlike Sky and BT Sport Netflix do not charge extra for access to HD content.


Posted by dogbark over 3 years ago

This much-vaunted requirement for only 15Mbps to stream 4K is dependant on a special chip being included in the 4K TV. So don't get too carried away.

Netflix were earlier responsible for other half-truths including them moving away from Silverlight, so take anything they say with a pinch of salt.

Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago

No reason the special chip cannot be in a set-top box and connect via HDMI 2.0.

The chip comments really relate to smart TV applications and them not have having the decoder built-in. Always the danger of an all-in-one device.
Posted by dogbark over 3 years ago
My comments about the chip relate to the reduction in the bandwidth requirements from 100Mbps to 15Mbps. The codecs will need additional hardware in the 4K TV.
Posted by Dixinormous over 3 years ago
A set top box with H.265 / VP9 capability would be fine. TV would be nonethewiser as to what codec was used it would just see HDMI.
Posted by otester over 3 years ago
"But you don't need ADSL2+"

"But you don't need FTTC"

"But you don't need FTTP"

Posted by AndrueC over 3 years ago
A lot of people probably sit too far from their TV to benefit from HD. I bet only a minority are close enough to benefit from 4k. And from talking to people not many of them really seem to care. Several people have said "I can't be bothered to go and find the HD version of the channel".
Posted by AndrueC over 3 years ago
@otester:A good ADSL2+ connection can handle a single HD stream. At broadcast quality anyway and does anyone really think they'll use the internet for uncompressed video? A good FTTC connection (50Mb/s or better) can handle three or four HD streams.

And..if 4k video ever takes off get back to us. I reckon it'll be several years yet. If eve (see my previous comment).
Posted by peterwnimmo over 3 years ago
With the current trend of ever reducing prices,
that seems to be unlikely to abate, and the ordinary Joe's unappreciation of fidelity to the directors intentions, and the ridiculously small sizes of dwellings in the UK, there isn't really a need for 4K TV.

The current best two technologies for producing an accurate picture are Plasma and OLED, and the aforementioned consumer drive for low prices has meant that Panasonic who produce the best and most accurate TVs, cannot afford to continue in the Plasma market due to the fantastic over popularity of LED.
Posted by peterwnimmo over 3 years ago
The biggest disadvantage LED TVs have over Plasma is their inability to portray dark scenes that also include bright aspects, say the stars in the sky. LED TVs can improve on this by using the FULL LED backlight technology, but again the drive for low prices means that those TVs are not selling as well as Edge lit LEDs. The only quality the consumer seems to like, is thinness, I’m not adverse to this either but it is the quality of the picture that concerns me.
Posted by chrysalis over 3 years ago
4k is a overhyped tech. A non native resolution looks bad on lcd, so 720p will look dodgy on a 1080p tv, but will look fine on a 720p tv. Unless you right in front of screen or own a 100inch tv, then you will not see squat difference between 4k and 1080p. It reminds me of android phones. New versions of android have now artifically large fonts, eg. on my galaxy ace using android 2.4 with a smaller screen and screen res the text looks the same size as on my s3 using android 4.3, because on 4.3 they increased the font size to counter the higher resolution of the s4. mind games.
Posted by neil123 over 3 years ago
4K now fits in the same bandwidth sky HD did when it launched...
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