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UAE broadband infrastructure ready for 4K streaming

Dubai: A number of TV manufacturers have introduced 4K TVs that can play back 4K content but where is the content?

As of now, none of the broadcasters, cable and satellite companies are anywhere near able to send an Ultra HD signal.

Even though one of the buzz-words at the Las Vegas Computer Electronics Show was 4K, Netflix, Amazon, M-Go and YouTube are planning to launch 4K content only in the second or third quarter of this year.

Some of the TV manufacturers have joined hands with the streaming companies to launch 4K content. But the big question is “when will it be available and will there be a standard video codec or will it be like the fragmented Smart TV market.”

According to industry sources, to stream a 4K content, broadband speed has to be between 10Mbps and 15Mbps.

Etisalat offers broadband speeds of up to 500Mbps while du offers speeds of up to 100Mbps.

“The telecom infrastructure in the UAE is ready for streaming 4K content but the ecosystem is still being developed globally. The telecom operators have a dedicated pipe for internet protocol television (IPTV).

Right now, all the channels on IPTV are not 100 per cent HD but we are not feeling the difference as the IPTV quality is very good,” Bhanu Chaddha, senior telecom analyst at research firm International Data Corporation, told Gulf News.

He said the IPTV programming is delivered directly to the viewer’s set-top box which requires a high-capacity network.

IPTV deployments in the Gulf are described as being at a much more advanced stage where some operators have migrated to Next Generation Networks (NGNs), enabling the provision of increased bandwidth and new value-added services compared to many Mideast countries.

Even though you have the broadband speed, much also depends on the capability of the streaming media companies’ servers.

Netflix CEO Reed Hasting had said that 4K will be the first format that will be internet-only delivery. Broadcast, cable and satellite companies will not have ultra HD content in the next five years.

UHD video streams will also be compressed definitely but nobody knows how much as of now as it is still being developed. It will become clear within six months.

“Even DVDs and Blu-Ray discs are compressed but consumers are not feeling the difference, so UHD streaming will definitely be superior and look spectacular,” Sweta Dash, senior director for display research at IHS, said. “If you have a good upscaling technology then 4K TV will stand out when compared to watching Full HD content,” she said.

Paul O’Donovan, principal research analyst at Gartner, said that there are smartphones, cameras and video cameras that can capture content in 4K right now, so there is some content available already for UHD TVs.

4K has been in the market for around 10 years and many blockbuster films from 2004 were originally filmed in 4K. So unlike 3D, a huge backlog of content is likely to come into standard media.

Most satellite broadcasters are starting to offer 4K channels and Pay TV channels where users need to have a new set-top box, O’Donovan added.