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TECHNOLOGIES THE 4k Eric Achtmann CONUNDRUM Co-founder and Executive Chairman, V-Nova. 2015 has conﬁrmed once more that 4k remains the TV industry’s Holy Grail. While 4k TV screens are becoming more affordable and Netﬂix, Amazon Prime and even YouTube are beginning to offer some 4k content, mass adoption is still sluggish as the increases in bandwidth required for distribution make 4k business models difﬁcult to stack-up. For instance where a traditional HD broadcast requires around 2.7Mbps, 4k consumes between 10Mbps and 18Mbps depending on a number of factors. This bandwidth increase impacts all modes of delivery from available radio spectrum to broadband bandwidth and requires increased investment in core network infrastructure to support mass consumption levels of 4k video. According to data from Akamai, less than 14% of the global broadband connections can support 15 Mbps, the midpoint bandwidth for 4k delivery. As many broadband networks use contention, this ﬁgure would undoubtedly drop if multiple users started to continually stream 4k content. Another inhibitor is the transition in revenue stream for telecoms providers from minutes of voice to units of data transfer. Where the phrase “unlimited” in reality turns to capacity limits of 30GB per month from a provider like BT, the UK’s largest ISP, a customer would hit the monthly bandwidth limit by viewing a single 4k movie a week. Even more generous providers such as AT&T’s u-verse service with its 250GB cap would make it impossible to binge on a season of “House of Cards” in 4k without hitting usage ceilings and incurring charges. One way to make 4k a viable option is to use more efﬁcient compression to reduce the bandwidth requirements. This is particularly important as Cisco’s research suggests that 80% of all consumer internet trafﬁc will be video by 2019. Although 4k is effectively 4 times the resolution of HD, newer compression technologies ensures it does not consume 4 times the bandwidth. In the same way that technology has advanced to make microprocessor smaller with lower energy consumption and more compute power per nanometre, modern compression technologies have evolved to take advantage of the immense processing power at hand. 52 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 108 DECEMBER 2015 However legacy block-based codecs such as AVC/ H.264 and HEVC/ H.265 are built upon fundamental principles based on the technology from 30 years ago to achieve the delivery of SD video at 2 to 4 Kbps per frame. Because of the limitations caused by these underlying fundamental principles, these legacy block-based codecs cannot take advantage of all the greater power within modern CE devices. Today’s TV landscape requires compression technology that can deliver Ultra HD content in 10 Mbps or less, which means that a new video compression paradigm is now a necessity for operators looking to deliver UHD at lower bitrates to extend the reach of their video offerings. Using parallelism, newer codecs break compression into discreet tasks that can be processed simultaneously to solve the fundamental issue of 4k’s staggering