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Netflix Begin Rollout of 4K Internet Video Streams for Fast Broadband Lines

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 (9:12 am) - Score 3,242

Broadband ISPs might eventually have to brace themselves for higher data demands after it was confirmed that Netflix had officially started to roll-out Ultra HDTV 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) quality video streams across their Internet-based unlimited movie and TV streaming service. Now all you need is a compatible 4K TV and a 15.6Mbps Internet speed.

Netflix’s new 4K streaming service was first mooted lasted year (here) and is expected to require a stable broadband download speed of 15.6Mbps, although the firms CEO, Reed Hastings, also suggested that those with a 50Mbps connection would be “fine.” In other words the 4K streams may fluctuate upwards from around 15Mbps and so 50Mbps is a safe bet for smooth playback.

According to HDTVtest, at present the only 4K content you can watch is the Netflix original series House of Cards (Season 2) and a few nature documentaries. However it’s interesting, if not unexpected, to note that having a 4K compatible TV might not be enough to view the content. Netflix currently uses a proprietary video encoding technology from eyeIO for most of its streams, although their 4K content makes use of the latest HEVC / H.265 video standard (here) and some of the earliest 4K sets can’t decode that (in some cases you might be able to fix this via a firmware update).

The introduction of 4K video streaming, which is slowly being deployed across Netflix’s platform, could eventually worry ISPs (especially budget providers that fail to invest enough in their capacity) because a 2 hour movie might now gobble close to 15GB (GigaBytes) of data. But for now 4K supporting TV’s and other devices remain expensive and somewhat unrefined, which means that there aren’t many consumers with the hardware to test the new service and 4K content is also generally very limited.

But history has shown that it doesn’t take long for a new video standard to take-off and soon enough 4K hardware will be both cheap and the content widely available. Given how video streaming accounts for the bulk of online data traffic then ISPs will certainly need to keep a close eye on this, although many people currently still suffer from real-world speeds of sub-15Mbps, but that too is slowly improving through the Broadband Delivery UK effort.

Next stop.. 8K (7680 x 4320 pixels).

Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar No clue

    The current House of cards episode scales from around 15 Mbps up to around 23 Mbps. A movie with lots of action, fast paced scenes, explosions etc will no doubt be more. Side by side with the HD version you can notice a difference, colour, sharpness and contrast all are improved, though you need a decent size screen to appreciate the difference (50+inch). Banding in fading scenes is still evident now and again though, a stream of around 30Mb would probably solve that entirely.

  2. Avatar Captain Cretin

    I now possess a 80Mbps connection, where can I get a good 4k TV from???? (just to wind my step father up).

  3. Avatar No clue

    Depends on your budget and what screen size you want. LGs latest 9xx 4K sets and Samsungs 9 series are gorgeous id recommend either, priced around 2-3 grand for a 55inch. Think i paid £2,800. If thats too expensive you could consider lower end gear like the well known Seiki sets from amazon/fleabay but they are not Smart TVs

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