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Cable Technology Feature Article

January 17, 2013

Eutelsat Launches 4K Content Channel for Europe

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Eutelsat (News - Alert) Communications is hoping to be an early mover in the ultra-definition TV space with the launch of its dedicated Ultra HD channel in Europe, geared toward educating the ecosystem.

The Eutelsat channel will act as a demonstration channel and a test bed, in an effort to “benefit all actors in the broadcasting chain who want to acquire expertise in 4K,” the company said, “including production companies, pay-TV operators, rights owners and TV set manufacturers.”

Ultra-definition TVs have garnered a big buzz in the wake of high-profile launches from LG, Samsung (News - Alert), Sony and others, who are looking to the $10,000-$25,000 machines as the future of display technology. One glaring issue with uptake, however, is the lack of available content for the format.

High-end “home cinema” HDTV offers a 2k resolution (2048 pixels over 1080 lines), but ultra-def ups the ante with 4K resolution (4096 pixels over 2160 lines). It thus delivers a resolution of eight million pixels, or four times the resolution of HDTV.

With such a step-change, only a handful of films have been produced using 4K cameras. And, there is no broadcast standard for television feeds, nor compatible Blu-ray players or other STBs, meaning that the majority of media companies have thus far opted out of spending the money to upgrade their equipment to produce the content.

The other issue is the amount of bandwidth required to deliver it. With today’s compression technologies, it’s really only satellite that can support full 4K delivery to the home. In Eutelsat’s case, the new channel will be operated in progressive mode at 50 FPS, encoded in MPEG-4, and transmitted at 40Mbps in four Quad HD streams. Eutelsat is partnering with ATEME, a video compression solution provider inthe broadcast industry, for the transmissions that will be uplinked to the EUTELSAT 10A satellite from its teleport in Rambouillet, near Paris.

 “This new step towards 4K continues Eutelsat’s longstanding commitment to achieving new broadcast milestones that over the last 20 years have included digital TV, HDTV and 3D,” said Jean-François Leprince-Ringuet, Eutelsat’s commercial director. “Early and close collaboration between all players in the broadcast chain will be a key success factor for this new revolution. We are delighted to propose this first Ultra HD platform for Europe.”

Eutelsat isn’t the only player looking to solve the content conundrum for 4K. Sony, for instanc,e has launched a 4K Ultra HD Video Player hard-disc server, which is available as a bonus loaned exclusively to U.S. customers purchasing the Sony 4K LED TV.

The video player comes loaded with 4K content, including both full length Hollywood features and a gallery of videos, including a collection of 10 full-length feature films: The Amazing Spiderman; Total Recall (2012); The Karate Kid (2010); Salt; Battle Los Angeles; The Other Guys; Bad Teacher; That's My Boy; Taxi Driver; and The Bridge on the River Kwai.

As a standalone unit, the TV already "upscales" all video inputs to a near-4K resolution through the use of Sony's proprietary 4K X-Reality PRO three-chip picture engine, the company said.

"Sony is a company of firsts, and this introduction of the first 4K technology platform continues that pioneering, innovative spirit," said Phil Molyneux, president and COO of Sony Electronics. "We were the first to introduce 4K projectors to cinemas in 2005, the first to introduce a 4K projector designed for the home in 2011, and the first to offer a 4K upscaling Blu-ray Disc player earlier this year. Now, we're the first to begin closing the content loop, offering native 4K content for the home and delivering the most immersive, awe-inspiring entertainment experience yet."

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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