NEC and Arqiva trial live Ultra HD broadcasts

Offering the UK’s first over-air DTT demonstration of live 4K UHD

NEC's video compression solution - variable block sizes

NEC's video compression solution - variable block sizes

NEC Corporation, a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies, is working with us and the BBC in a series of live trials of 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 the High Definition TV.

“By trialling 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.”

“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.”

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Notes to Editors

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. Previous technologies divide the 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 encoding and transmitting process. NEC’s 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

NEC Corporation 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. For more information, visit NEC at http://www.nec.com.

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.

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