BT talking up the possibility of 4K video streaming
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.