BBC to trial Ultra High Definition during the World Cup

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

The BBC will be trialling Ultra High Definition broadcasts this summer as its Research and Development teams look at how they may be able to deliver the format in the short-term.

The closed tests will take place around the country, including MediaCityUK, where many of the Research and Development technologists are based.

Live UHD streams will be transmitted via satellite from Brazil to the UK where they will be decoded and distributed via existing broadcast and broadband technology to a number of test UHD television sets.

It will be the first time that UHD has been delivered simultaneously over the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and Internet Protocol (IP) networks to “the home.”

The BBC will be working alongside its strategic research partner, Arqiva, as well as consumer electronics companies and technology providers to see whether the technology works.

"BBC R&D has an outstanding track record as a catalyst for bringing the industry together and delivering the future of television to audiences. These trials are an excellent example of that tradition as a major technical achievement, such as distributing UHD TV over DTT and IP simultaneously from Rio, can only be made possible by close collaboration with a range of organisations,” explained Matthew Postgate, controller, BBC R&D.

“The trials will prove hugely valuable in furthering our understanding of UHD technology, and potential distribution models for the future, as well providing real benefits for licence fee payers in the near-term.”

There are 3 key areas they hope to research:

1. A future hybrid broadcasting model - whether traditional distribution and IP technologies can complement one-another.

2. Delivering UHD TV efficiently - There are some difficulties transmitting UHD through existing broadcast and broadband technology, so they will test the use of High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) through DTT and IP networks.

3. Delivering high quality UHD TV - this will test the quality of the service over the IP networks according to an individual’s network bandwidth.

“By trialling Ultra High Definition with the BBC, Arqiva can demonstrate how future UHD live events could be delivered to millions of UK homes via the leading television platform – DTT. This is the first over-air demonstration of live UHD in the UK and uses new High Efficiency Transmitters and HEVC coding technology,” added Steve Holebrook, managing director of terrestrial broadcast for Arqiva.

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