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Broadband ISPs Braced as Amazon Instant Confirms 4K UHD Video Streams

Thursday, December 11th, 2014 (11:23 am) - Score 1,655

Internet providers will no doubt be keeping a careful watch of Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service after the company announced that members will soon be able to take advantage of the high-quality 4K (Ultra HD – 3840 x 2160 pixels) picture resolution of movies and TV shows on their service “at no additional cost” (rivals often charge a premium for it).

It’s understood that a number of popular Amazon Original Series and other shows, such as Alpha House, Transparent and Orphan Black, will be available in 4K. Apparently all of those and more will become available for streaming in Ultra HD on the service later this year and into next year, although it’s unclear if this is also applicable to the UK division.

Perhaps of more interest though is the fact that all Amazon customers will also have access to purchase a selection of movies in 4K format from Sony Pictures Entertainment, including After Earth, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Elysium, Godzilla, Hancock, Moneyball, The Mask of Zorro, The Monuments Men, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Da Vinci Code, The Patriot, Think Like a Man Too, This Is the End and many more.

Michael Paull, Vice President of Amazon Digital Video, said:

We want to deliver the best entertainment experience, and offering Ultra HD movies and TV shows raises the bar on quality and innovation that customers have come to expect from Amazon. We’re also excited that Ultra HD is the latest benefit of the Amazon Prime membership, giving members instant access to great movies and TV shows in a premium picture resolution at no additional cost.”

At present most of the other Internet video services that support 4K content, such as Netflix, YouTube and Sony’s own platform, tend to require a stable broadband download speed of anything from 15 to 30Mbps (Megabits per second). Amazon doesn’t say precisely how fast their customers connections will need to be, although they do quote Netflix’s recommendation of 25Mbps (i.e. roughly the same as the UK Government’s starting definition for “superfast”).

It’s likely that the growth of 4K content will slowly help to entice consumers to adopt faster broadband connections, although at present the amount of TV’s available that can support the new standard is somewhat limited. But there are a few around that appear to ship with support for the necessary standards, although you’ll need to have at least £800+ lying around to get a good bit of kit, which is certain to fall. Credits to Thinkbroadband for spotting Amazon’s PR.

Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. Avatar DTMark says:

    That’s going to have Virgin Media re-segmenting their network again..

    In the other corner, even if you have “super fast fibre optic broadband” down your phone line – remember, this is *next* generation access, you might not even be able to play this stuff at all. Maybe a 50/50 chance in perfect conditions.

    And this supposed “next” generation (giggles again) access is still being rolled out, we don’t even have that everywhere?

    Bandwidth requirements are going to go up exponentially, not in some slow linear fashion.

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Why a 50/50 chance I get those speeds no problem

    2. Avatar No Clue says:

      Which would put you in the 50% which do… You do know what a 50/50 is dont you?

  2. Avatar ShadyCreek says:

    Will be interesting to see if there is genuinely much demand for this in the next year or two. The number of people with the right combination of 1) interest, 2) a tv that’s up to it, and 3) an internet connection that’s up to it would seem fairly slim.

  3. Avatar fttx says:

    With Asda were selling Tvs for £299 (4K 49″)I would suggest that the argument of no hardware out there is going to fall on deaf ears soon, content is also coming through fast now.

    Just one roadblock now.

  4. Avatar DTMark says:

    I think this is the one that’s going to see some ISPs throw in the towel.

    The Wholesale bandwidth costs will be astronomical while at the same time, demand for “unlimited use” services will continue to grow to support these new streams.

    Since only BT and Virgin are in a position to get the bandwidth at cost price, everyone else having to pay the wholesale price, this makes me think that the stance of encouraging competition at a retail level while actively discouraging infrastructural investment will, in the end, actually result in very limited retail choice.

  5. Avatar Hull_lad says:

    The days of ‘unlimited’ are numbered. As one poster has already commented, usage is going up exponentially. Content providers such as Sky will happily give you unlimited bandwidth for delivering their own content, but will cap usage on everything else. Next up, content providers such as Netflix and Amazon entering and disrupting the ISP market.

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      Interesting times ahead.

      Though I suspect BT and VM will continue with the unlimited model, socialising the cost among all of the users and those being the only two that can afford to do this. Small ISPs will become very niche, far more so than now.

      Worth noting that in Holland, there aren’t any “data allowances” or censorship at all (predominantly cabled). While the latter won’t change, the former might. But they’ve had much faster speeds than us for a fair while and it hasn’t yet.

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