South Korea Tops List for 4K Capable Broadband Availability

by on July 8, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – July 3th, 2014

4K TV and streaming content are both growing more popular by the day but they still have a long road to travel before they become truly widespread and even farther to travel before they start to seriously replace conventional HD. Some of the factors that are slowing penetration down include a still existing lack of content and the need for faster average internet connections that would allow effective UHD streaming.

However, the penetration of 4K will not be equally difficult in all parts of the world and some countries are definitely more ready for the medium than others.

One of these is South Korea. According to a recent “State of the Internet in 2014” study conducted by the cloud services company Akamai, the small but highly technologically advanced east Asian country has a 60% rate of penetration for high speed broadband internet connectivity above 15 Mbps. This means in effect that at least 60% of its internet using customer base can indeed stream 4K right now with their existing web connections assuming they have a TV or display monitor capable of rendering the 3,840 x 2,160 pixel ultra-high def format.

At 60% penetration, South Korea is certainly doing much better than even its closest rival Japan, which enjoys only 32% 4K ready broadband penetration and vastly better than the United States, where only about 17% of connections can consistently deliver at least 10Mbps, which is still considered the minimum necessary for effective 4K content transmission according to companies like Netflix.

The chief problem lies in the fact that under current encoding technology, a given Ultra HD adaptive bitrate (ABR) video stream needs at least 10 Mbps of sustained broadband velocity to give users a consistently functional UHD video transmission. And ideally, connections should give at least 15 Mbps for truly optimal viewing of 4K content.

Netflix, the BBC in the U.K and a number of partnered broadcasters in Japan are all working in their respective countries to either encode 4K even more efficiently so that it can be sent over ever smaller connection speeds or at improving connectivity through assorted innovative means so that even high data UHD video can be given to audiences.

One standard that’s currently on the verge of commercial adoption is called High Efficiency Video Codec, or HEVC, and both the BBC and Netflix, among others are scrambling to adopt it commercially.

The bottom line is that 4K has started to develop rapidly, has garnered a lot of public attention and major content and streaming service providers are pushing UHD content out the door as fast as they can. At the same time, manufacturers of 4K capable screens, TVs and projectors are doing their own part to make the format as popular and affordable as possible for the sake of increasing their sales.

To name just one major example, Sony, which is one of the leaders in 4K display electronics, has filmed select World Cup games for live broadcast to audiences in the U.K and other countries as part of its general strategy to promote the extremely high resolution format and products that allow its viewing.

For now however, with the exception of millions of internet users in South Korea and Japan to a lesser extent, most potential 4K customers worldwide will have to hope for wither improved broadband connectivity or more innovative means of getting content delivered to their screens.

Story by 4k.com

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