NEC Corporation, a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies, and Arqiva, the communications infrastructure and media services company, announced today that they are working with the BBC in trials of a series of live, over-the-air 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) broadcasts.
BBC Research & Development is using NEC’s new High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) solution and transmitters in the closed trials at its demo centre to demonstrate UHD transmissions over the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform, owned and operated by Arqiva.
HEVC is a major breakthrough in the history of broadcasting, enabling consumers to enjoy much higher resolution broadcasts over the triple-play of online, mobile and digital TV platforms using the finite radio spectrum and internet bandwidth that’s available across the network. The technology doubles the compression efficiency of current MPEG 4 technology, enabling broadcasters to transmit live UHD programs with four times the image quality of existing High Definition TV.
Steve Holebrook, Managing Director of Terrestrial Broadcast for Arqiva, said: “By trialing Ultra High Definition with the BBC, Arqiva can demonstrate how future UHD live-events could be delivered to millions of UK homes via the leading television platform DTT. We have been grateful for the technology and support provided by NEC in our preparations for the UK’s first UHD transmissions via DTT. We are delighted to demonstrate the future potential of the DTT platform using the benefits of the DVB-T2 standard, which we first deployed in 2009 as a world first.”
Mike Rhodes-Peel, Head of Broadcast at NEC in EMEA, said: “These trials will show the benefits that UHD TV broadcasting can bring to BBC viewers particularly when there is fast-paced action during live sports events. High speed movement is much smoother as a result of NEC’s unique encoding technology and viewers will also be able to enjoy a wide range of colours, textures and nuanced brightness levels. The compression technology is also a major breakthrough as we transition to a multi-platform mobile, online and terrestrial world.
How does UHD video benefit consumers?
Ultra High Definition TV represents the next stage in the evolution of television. Offering twice the vertical and horizontal resolution of High Definition TV, UHD will provide consumers will images so incredibly realistic that it feels like they’re looking through a window onto real life with more colours, textures, nuanced brightness levels and smoother motion.
How does video compression technology work?
All video compression technologies work by efficiently encoding large amounts of data in each image frame in a way that enables it to be transmitted over the airwaves and broadband cables using the finite bandwidth that’s available while trying to preserve as much of the image quality as possible when it’s decoded by the consumers’ set-top box or computer. This is achieved by identifying near identical areas within a single image frame, which do not need to be encoded multiple times, and focusing on the detail and motion-induced differences between the frames.
What’s new about NEC’s HEVC solution?
NEC takes a unique approach to motion analysis of 4K Video Signals. Previous technologies divide the 4K frame into four areas for compression and there is degradation across the boundaries when a person or object is in motion. In contrast, NEC’s encoder creates nine overlapped motion analysis windows which enable a very smooth image to be enjoyed by the viewer. NEC’s compression technology also accelerates the encoding and transmission process with its unique algorithms which drastically reduce the amount of computation required for the encoding and transmitting process. New algorithms estimate which areas of each image frame are very detailed and which ones are flat on the basis of the preceding image rather than calculating all the options each time. Each image frame is then divided into variable block sizes at high speed in an optimal way for compression.
Is 4K content readily available?
Free-to-air, cable and satellite broadcasting companies are starting to run trials of UHD TV and Netflix and YouTube already offer 4K channels. Lots of drama, natural history and other high end programming is already being shot, and sometimes edited in higher resolution.
About NEC Corporation
NEC Corporation (nec.com) is a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies that benefit businesses and people around the world. By providing a combination of products and solutions that cross utilize the company’s experience and global resources, NEC’s advanced technologies meet the complex and ever-changing needs of its customers. NEC brings more than 100 years of expertise in technological innovation to empower people, businesses and society.
NEC is a registered trademark of NEC Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Other product or service marks mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners. ©2014 NEC Corporation.
Arqiva (arqiva.com), provider of transmission services in the UK, was responsible for the deployment of the world’s first DTT platform in 1998, the implementation of the UK’s Digital Switchover programme from 2008 to 2012 and the introduction of HD services on the DTT platform in 2009. Arqiva remains at the forefront of development of broadcast transmission services.
Arqiva offers a broad range of products and services as an infrastructure and media services company and operates at the heart of the broadcast, satellite, mobile communications and WiFi markets.
Some of the busiest and best loved brands in the UK trust us to deliver seamless WiFi connectivity including Premier Inn, Travelodge, British Airways, Enterprise Inns and almost every airport in the UK. We are experts in the travel, hospitality and retail sectors, with a network spanning over 4,000 public locations including city centres, hotels, restaurants, shopping centres, airports, airline lounges, motorway service stations and other premium, high-footfall sites.