UHD in the UK
When can we expect to see a BBC One UHD or an ITV UHD? Not any time in the near future, at present there are no plans by any major public service broadcaster to even introduce a test channel in UHD, let alone a simulcast of any of their channels.
Firstly there is the issue of UHD/4K content, there is not a great amount available at present, though this was also the case with the introduction of HD . Here, SD content was upscaled to HD. This could also be done with HD to UHD until enough content in native UHD becomes available.
Then there are commercial and technical difficulties that will have to be considered before the introduction of any new services in UHD.
Capacity on the terrestrial Freeview platform is limited, a UHD channel would need more bandwidth than a HD channel, though compression technology is improving.
Although there is more free capacity on satellite, it will still require broadcasters to lease additional transponder capacity.
The BBC is committed to ‘platform neutrality’, this would require any new service to be on Freeview, Freesat, Sky and cable. BBC One’s English regions are still only broadcast in SD, so it would be hard to convince the BBC Trust of any real value to the public.
It would also require the Corporation to cut funding to other services, there have already been many cuts to BBC services and the BBC is under pressure to make even more saving. So there is not much hope of any BBC UHD at present.
The BBC has carried out UHD trials in 2014 during the World Cup, these were carried out on both DTT and IP. The BBC is unlikely to start using UHD before 2018-2020, this when the switch from DVB-T to DVB-T2 is expected to occur on Freeview.
For more information see: BBC R&D Ultra-High Definition Trials
For the other public service broadcaster, the challenges are more or less the same as those of the BBC, introducing UHD would require the PSBs to broadcast in three different formats, SD, HD and UHD. At some point in the future the switch from SD to HD will probably happen, simulcasting channels costs money and takes up capacity, also most Freeview multiplexes are still using DVB-T/MPEG2. A switch to DVB-T2 would have to happen before any UHD can be considered.
Once again it seems Sky will be the first to introduce new technology, Sky Q became available to order on February 9, 2016.
The Sky Q range consists of three set top boxes (Sky Q, Sky Q Silver and Sky Q Mini), a broadband router (Sky Q Hub) and mobile applications.
The Sky Q set top boxes introduce a new user interface, Wi-Fi hotspot functionality, Power-line and Bluetooth connectivity and a new touch-sensitive remote control.
The Sky Q Mini set top boxes connect to the Sky Q Silver set top boxes with a Wi-Fi or Power-line connection rather than receive their own satellite feeds.
This allows all set top boxes in a household to share recordings and other media.
The Sky Q Silver set top box is capable of receiving and displaying UHD broadcasts, which Sky will introduce later in 2016.
Astra Ultra HD Demo
SES currently broadcasts two Ultra HD demo channels over its 19.2 degrees East orbital position. The content highlights the impressive viewing experience of Ultra HD in terms of detail, color and movement and it includes footage from Chicago, St. John, Paris and Luxembourg. The transmission is in line with the DVB UHD Phase-1 specification.
ASTRA 28.2° East
Frequency: 12.441 V
Symbol Rate: 29500
APID 220 (AAC Stereo)
PCR PID 210
PMT PID 257
Video: approx 16 MBps
Audio: 96 kbps AAC
Service name: Astra UHD Demo