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4K HEVC Video Is Years Away From Being a Streaming Reality
Why would set-top box makers bother supporting UHD video when home bandwidth connections aren't nearly robust enough to carry it?
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While there's a lot of talk about 4K video at the major conventions, such as CES and NAB, the reality is that 4K won't be streaming to homes anytime soon. Speaking at the recent Streaming Media West conference in sunny Huntington Beach, California, encoding expert Jan Ozer explained that even Netflix can't reliably deliver 15Mbps video over one of the fastest connections around.

"Can you even deliver 15Mbps HEVC over the internet?" Ozer asked. "UHD 4K is being encoded by Netflix at 15Mbps. Can they deliver 15Mbps? They had trouble delivering 2 1/2 Mbps…[Netflix is] averaging 3.4Mbps over FIOS, which is one of the fastest systems out there. Even if the TV sets were out there, even if the content was out there, can you deliver 15Mbps video to these UHD sets? The answer is unless you have your own pipes, probably not."

For anyone in the market for a 4K television set, the message is to wait—probably years.

"Why should Roku add 4K UHD or 4K HEVC decode to their retail boxes when you can't get anything close to 15Mbps video to them?" Ozer asked. "I would not buy a 4K set for the next two or three years, and I think anybody who knows about these issues probably would make the same decision. Even though there are services launching, what's the Magic 8-Ball say? Are we going to see a lot of big advances in 4K HEVC production?"

Spinning into view, Ozer's Magic 8-Ball says, "Outlook Not So Good."

Watch the full HEVC discussion below and download Ozer's presentation.


HOW TO: Producing and Distributing HEVC

This session explores the current status of HEVC, identifying options for encoding live and on-demand HEVC and discussing player options in the streaming and OTT markets. Topics include the comparative quality and usability of HEVC encoders—including encoders from Cisco, Elemental, Harmonic, and Telestream— how HEVC quality compares to H.264 and VP9 (if encoders are available), and known trials and deployments of HEVC.

Jan Ozer, Principal - Doceo Publishing

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