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SES: 18 Mbps Is the Right Rate for 4K TV

SES believes it has found the right bit rate balance for 4K TV service in a way that keeps bandwidth demands in check without sacrificing video quality.

That number comes in at 18 Megabits per second using High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), according to Steve Corda, vice president of business development in North America for SES.

He said that bit rate squares with cable operators, because it allows them to fit two 4K TV signals into a channel 6 Megahertz wide. On SES’s end, that bit rate also enables the company to balance video quality and cost, while allowing four UHD signals to fit into a satellite transponder, and up to 16 UHD channels to be remultiplexed on a satellite receiver.

At least 16 cable operators and telcos are now testing SES’s managed 4K/Ultra HD service, which currently offers nine channels. Announced partners include Aureon, GVTC Communications, Highlands Cable Group, KPU Telecommunications, Service Electric Cable TV, Shrewsbury Community Cable, Armstrong, Buckeye Broadband, Cable America Missouri, Entouch Systems, Golden West Cablevision, Frontier Communications, KPU Telecommunications, MTC Cable and Marquette Adams Communications.

A “large tier 1” provider, yet unnamed, is also on board for a 4K trial, Corda said.

Most of the cable operators involved in the trials are delivering the signals over QAM/MPEG transport to set-top boxes, but some are also considering delivery over DOCSIS networks using IP multicast technology.

Though SES’s 4K platform is still in trial mode, it’s just a few weeks away from commercial readiness, Corda estimated.

“The technology has clearly matured,” he said, noting that SES is making good progress on its plan to reduce the time for a 4K platform to go from trial to commercial in a period of about two years.

SES introduced its UHD solution for cable systems in April 2015, and kicked off its first trial in June 2016.