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Satellite 2016: “All main operators working with 4K”

Panellists at the Satellite 2016 trade event in Washington last week confirmed their faith in 4K/Ultra HD, but some of them also admitted that 8K transmission could be closer than most people think.

Richard Bullock (strategic project manager at Ericsson) told delegates that enquiries from broadcasters had quietened down over the past year since the Brazil World Cup “and we are waiting for the next wave of enthusiasm to come back and hit us” which he said could happen over the next year.

DirecTV’s Phil Gozwitz (SVP/space & communications R&D) is a firm backer of Ultra-HD and says the market will take off, but some broadcasters were still suffering scepticism and the fall-out created by 3D’s television failure. He said that this uncertainty is quite normal when a new technology is introduced. “This is what it’s like to be on the leading edge. Even within the same company there are people with differing opinions. All of the main operators [are working in 4K] either with OTT or satellite. [4K] is here and it is all about content providers to make the investment.”

Goswitz added that the 4K ecosystem also has to be in place with several different industries needing to co-align and to evolve with their own R&D.  “There will be leaders in every element and, as with HDTV, the leaders will drive the dynamic and the cause and the propagation of technology.”

By 2020 most of the panellists agreed that there would be between 5 and 10 transponders dedicated to 4K content on a typical DTH satellite (which if 10 transponders would equate to 20-25 channels), although Goswitz fully anticipates 50-70 Ultra-HD channels to be on air.

The first ‘full time’ US channel will start on DirecTV with the important Masters National golf tournament at Augusta, Georgia (April 7th – 10th), when network broadcaster CBS will place 4K cameras at the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes, and transmit from 10.30am to 6pm for the event. DirecTV will take these signals and fill the later evening hours with documentary programming “and more”, according to DirecTV.

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