Only 11% of Internet Connections Currently Ready to Handle 4K Data

by on July 6, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – July 6th, 2014

Ultra-high definition 4K video is gaining massive traction but there is still a long way to go before everyone can enjoy it whenever they like. This is because, according to cloud service provider Akami, ultra HD 4K streaming video needs an internet connection strength of between 10 and 20 Mbps and only about 11% of web connections worldwide are capable of providing that consistently.

This finding came from the company’s 2014 State of the Internet report which featured the results of a widespread measurement of wordwide internet connections to see which ones were capable of providing their users 15 or more Mbps.

Countries with widespread 4K readiness included South Korea, Japan and the Czech Republic with 60%, 32% and 17% of their web users receiving at least 15 Mbps.

However, the global average connection speed is much lower than these numbers, sitting at a rather low 3.9 Mbps and soon expected to just pass 4 Mbps. This means growth of just 1.8% for the first quarter or 2014 and even this is offset by an average worldwide drop of 8.6% for global peak connection speed averages in the same time frame.

South Korea was one of the few world leaders in broadband speed increases, showing an 8% rise in connectivity to 23.6 Mbps.

As for the United States, average connection speeds nationwide took twelfth place world wide at 10.5 Mbps. While this isn’t bad, it still comes in too low for reliable widespread 4K transmission of data even if the latest video compression methods such as HEVC are used. Furthemore, connectivity power varied from state to state, with some states like Massachusetts and Delaware being the most 4K ready in the country.

4K technology creates TV and video display resolutions of at least 3,840 x 2,160 Mbps, which is four times more than what’s seen with conventional Full HD at 1,920 x 1080 pixels. Because of its much greater pixel count, it is a very data intensive medium and this has been one of its greatest hindrances to wide adoption.

While companies such as Netflix and the BBC in the UK are making strong efforts to widely unroll 4K in an easy to transmit format, they are stil limited by the fact that most users don’t own a 4K screen and, even more importantly, many users don’t have access to strong enough broadband connections.

Innovative wireless transmission standards for smart phones and tablets might however offer a partial solution. Communications giant Qualcomm is soon going to start offering a specialized data transmission chip enabled with a technology called WiGig to all the electronics makers that use its chip technology.

With this chip built into them, smart phones and tablets will then be able to receive large packets of 4G or eventually even 5G data and then wirelessly transmit it directly to TVs in their vicinity via the WiGig chips inside them at a massive speed of 7 Gbps, which is more than enough to handle 4K video.

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