Cable Giant Comcast Working to Create More 4K TV Deals

by on July 29, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – July 29th, 2014

The Multiple Services Operator (MSO) Comcast is working with a number of companies, including Samsung to bring audiences in the U.S and elsewhere apps and services that will bring 4K video on-demand into as many homes and personal display devices as possible. Their main focus is bringing video on-demand to 4K TVs over broadband connections but that’s just what’s big in their current plans.

According to Comcast vice president and chief technology officer Tony Werner, “We are keen on 4K” and “We like bandwidth intensive applications….Bandwidth is our friend and it’s the business that we’re in”.

Comcast’s initial foray into delivering 4K video to TVs will rely on public internet connections and although there are concerns about the bandwidth needs of delivering this kind of Ultra HD resolution to homes across the U.S, the company brushed them aside by arguing that the pressure on delivering 4K effectively will technological investment in improving connection speeds and power.

At tech events, Both Comcast and DirectTV are demonstrating 4K delivery to Samsung’s new generation of 4K TVs and making a case for the use of the new HEVC data compression codec (also known as H.265), which is capable of dramatically decreasing the bandwidth needed to transmit a 4K UHD signal over existing broadband connections.

According to Comcast’s director of premises technologies at a recent tech event in which the company showcased the technology and their ability to handle it, the company expects that its VOD 4K streams will require web connection speeds of at least 15 to 20 Mbps. This is about the average in the industry right now, even with the use of HEVC compression and it’s the same bandwidth requirement mentioned by other streaming 4K providers such as Netflix and Amazon, who are already delivering content in the format.

Comcast plans on starting delivery of VOD content directly to Samsung Smart TVs and is also working on developing its own generation of stream delivery boxes for its proprietary X1 platform for content delivery. This will also use the HEVC codec and decompress native 4K signals beamed out by the company.

The boxes for the X1 platform should be available later in 2014, though no specific date has been mentioned. The current generation of X1 boxes used by Comcast are only useful for delivery of normal 1080P HD signals which a 4K TV can then upscale to a closer to UHD resolution. However, this doesn’t come quite close to the clarity of real, native 4K beamed right to a TV set.

However, even though it doesn’t match the brilliance of real 4K, “Upconverted content absolutely looks better” according to 3NET CEO Tom Cosgrave. There is a lot of hope in the 4K industry that this upscaling capacity that all 4K TVs have for improving still plentiful and dominant 1080 HD content streams will nudge more people into buying TVs with the powerful new resolution technology before the explosion in native UHD video and film comes around.

So far, since most streaming and broadcast content providers offer all of their shows in normal HD, the usefulness of an increasingly affordable 4K TV is still fantastic even if native 4K content is still in its early stages of development.

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