SES Astra actively planning for Ultra-HDTV

Luxembourg-based SES Astra is preparing to launch Ultra-HDTV channels in “two to three years”. This is much earlier than previously anticipated. The news emerged from an analysts briefing and is to be further explained this coming week when SES holds its Investors Day in London on May 22.

Specifically, SES president/CEO Romain Bausch told analysts that the global satellite operator is ready to help pioneers such as BSkyB, for example, with the launch of U-HDTV “which could happen two or three years from now”.

“U-HDTV is still in its early days but NHK’s approach is for full 8K [transmission] but the other U-HDTV is 4K and we see this as being more commercially focussed and could be a reality only two or three years from now. We are very confident that U-HDTV will happen. BSkyB lead the introduction of HDTV in Europe so do not be surprised if you see us partnering with BSkyB in order to pioneer the introduction of Ultra-HDTV in the next two to three years. We are in close cooperation with our customers on their plans,” said Bausch.

Bausch added that as far as the UK and Ireland is concerned there is plenty of capacity available at 28.2 degrees East for U-HDTV, and this is also the case with mainland Europe where 19.2 degrees East also has capacity available. “SES is well prepared, and as soon as our customers are ready we are ready and without any additional capacity investment needed on our behalf.”

Coincidentally, the news emerged as Japanese public broadcaster NHK confirmed that it had successfully test-transmitted U-HDTV (at 8,000 lines) over regular UHF bandwidth. The transmission was sent some 4.2 km across Tokyo and utilised multiple-channel transmission.

This week is NHK’s Public Open Day at its Research & Development centre in Tokyo (May 24-27) when the latest versions of U-HDTV will be demonstrated. This includes an 8K camera sensor chip which can capture at 120 frames/second (considered ideal in reducing flicker). NHK has already shown a 145” TV set (developed with Panasonic) that can receive 8K images

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