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YouTube Tests 8K Video Streams – Demands 50Mbps UK Broadband Speed

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015 (2:49 pm) - Score 21,138

Internet giant Google has announced that their massively popular online video streaming service, YouTube, can now stream content using the very latest 8K Full Ultra HD video standard (7680 x 4320 pixels). But at twice the resolution in both directions of 4K it also requires double the broadband speed (i.e. around 50 Megabits per second).

At this stage support for 8K is arguably more about bragging rights because virtually nobody owns an 8K supporting display or TV at home and that’s unlikely to change for a few more years, heck even 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) displays are still suffering from fairly low uptake and the amount of content available at that resolution is also extremely limited. Not that you could even perceive the visual difference between 4K and 8K without a truly massive TV.

Never the less Google has decided that now is the time to start adding 8K support and so they’ve uploaded a few videos, such as the ‘Ghost Town‘ demo below. But even if you can run it (not everybody will see the option) then there’s not much point unless you’ve got an equally huge screen to truly do it justice, not to mention a decent broadband connection.

Speaking of broadband speed, video streaming is always a variable experience depending upon the codec used and also because the amount of data being sent will vary from frame to frame (e.g. frames that consist entirely of a single colour, be they 480p or 8K, would still run fine on slow connections as there’s not much to show).

But of course most video content is significantly more complicated than a single colour and our tests of the 8K stream found bitrates that generally hovered between 20Mbps and 50Mbps (Megabits per second). The peak speed is usually best for reflecting the required performance needed to deliver smooth playback (our figure of 50Mbps is obviously anecdotal).

Putting that into perspective, Ofcom’s last broadband speeds report (here) found that the national average fixed line download speed was 22.8Mbps and the Government are also working to make speeds of greater than 24Mbps available to 95% of the United Kingdom by 2017.

Customers of Virgin Media’s 50-152Mbps capable cable network and those already able to get faster than 50Mbps through BT’s FTTC network, not to mention the lucky minority that can benefit from pure fibre optic (FTTH/P) connectivity, are already prepared for 8K. But there’s a long way to go for everybody else; not that it matters, yet.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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