Korea’s KT SkyLife Ultra-HD in 2014

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Satellite TV in Ultra HD quality is no longer just a dream: following a successful test broadcast this week, KT Skylife has unveiled a roadmap for offering 4K TV to its subscribers. The Korean provider plans to trial one channel of UHD content in the efficient H.265 (HEVC) video format next year, with a full commercial launch due in 2015. Widespread availability will depend on KT Skylife's ability to clear regulatory hurdles, CEO Jae-chul Moon says.

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Local cable operators are also planning test-streaming of 4K programming to a handful of subscribers in order to test systems.

While further details are sketchy, it is known that Korea Telecom’s SkyLife DTH operation is working with Ericsson to handle what SkyLife described as “premium content”, including Ultra-HDTV and HEVC-enabled material. A deal was struck between SkyLife and Ericsson at the NAB show in Las Vegas earlier this year.

It is probable, although not confirmed, that SkyLife will start 4K transmissions with the FIFA World Cup. Japan’s SkyPerfect has already confirmed it will be showing matches in 4K from Brazil.

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The NAB agreement covered the use of Ericsson’s AVP and RX8200 equipment by KT SkyLife. At the time (April 2013) Giles Wilson, head of Ericsson’s TV compression business, said:  “UHDTV provides an opportunity for content providers, broadcasters and operators to create a truly immersive experience that allows them to differentiate their service, and we foresee major sporting events accelerating the adoption of the technology… At the same time, HEVC promises to revolutionise video service delivery across multiple applications and we are pleased to work with KT SkyLife in testing both of these new technologies. We look forward to commencing these trials and to driving the next major advance in TV experiences.”

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