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Is 4K Ultra HD in Cable's Future?
Craig Leddy | Contributing Analyst
The expected arrival of 4K Ultra High Definition TV (UHD) will present some significant challenges to cable providers.

These range from system upgrades to accommodate UHD's larger bandwidth requirements to dealing with even more competition from OTT providers such as Netflix that will deliver UHD over cable’s broadband connections.
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4K Ultra HD: Big Opportunities, Big Challenges for Cable
During the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), exhibitors displayed new television models with much clearer pictures. The sets created a buzz despite questions about consumer demand, high prices, transmission capabilities and a lack of content for them.

But this wasn't 2014. The year was 1998 and the new marvel was high-definition TV. The first HDTV sets hit the market that year, bearing a hefty retail price of about $8,000, according to The New York Times.

History appears to be repeating itself. 4K Ultra High Definition TV has arrived and is producing similar buzz, questions and pronouncements. And once again, the U.S. cable industry is being asked to support a technology that barely exists yet. Is Ultra HD as inevitable as HDTV, or just a flash in the pan like 3DTV?

While the marketplace sorts out that question, the technological pieces are coming together to enable service providers to deliver 4K Ultra HD. The purpose of this report is to explore the key technologies and requirements throughout the distribution chain for cable to deliver 4K Ultra HD.

Cable operators are wary about the experience they encountered when satellite put competitive pressure on multiple system operators (MSOs) to increase their HDTV channels. Now cable faces a new competitive threat: over-the-top (OTT) providers including Netflix, Amazon and YouTube that are streaming UHD content starting this year. If consumers rally around that UHD content, it could put pressure on cable and other Internet service providers' bandwidth. The silver lining is that it provides another motivation for cable to embrace IP infrastructure upgrades.

Unlike HDTV, this time competitive pressure is likely to come from OTT providers that are promising to deliver UHD. If consumers gravitate to UHD OTT streaming on a large scale, it would add significantly to the bandwidth consumption that Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and others already are gobbling up.

But UHD also provides a common ground for service providers and OTT streamers to work together to deliver the new service. The recent Comcast-Netflix interconnection deal, although there was no mention of UHD, could be a harbinger of emerging relationships between service providers and OTT streamers.

4K Ultra HD: Big Opportunities, Big Challenges for Cable explores UHD requirements, opportunities and challenges for cable. It includes profiles of seven cable suppliers that have announced UHD technology products.

Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpt below:
Table of Contents (cii0314_toc.pdf)
4K Ultra HD TV promises a significant enhancement in all of the visual aspects of video: higher resolution, frame rate, dynamic range, color range (much richer colors) and aspect ratio. The "4" describes a picture that is four times the resolution of HD, achieved by doubling the horizontal and vertical quantity of pixels (or "lines"). There are dozens of factors that will determine whether UHD takes off or not. The following excerpt lists five key market drivers – the 5 Cs – that ultimately will determine UHD's fate on cable.
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Companies profiled include: Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS); Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM); Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO); Elemental Technologies Inc.; Envivio Inc.; Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC); and Harmonic Inc.
Total pages: 16
DECEMBER 2013
Cable's New Quest for Advanced Advertising Treasure
This report explores the industry's progress with DAI and the opportunities and challenges of advanced advertising technologies in a multi-screen environment. It includes profiles of seven key suppliers that support cable's advanced advertising aspirations.
READ SUMMARY
Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
OCTOBER 2013
Fast & Furious: Cable Counters Google Gigabit Salvo
This report explores the Gigabit Internet trend and its implications for cable operators and suppliers. It includes profiles of seven suppliers that support advances in cable's high-speed Internet residential infrastructure.
READ SUMMARY
Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
AUGUST 2013
Cable Operators & Ethernet: Serious Market Share
This report reviews and updates how cable companies are approaching the U.S. Ethernet services business. It analyzes the Ethernet strategies of the seven most significant U.S.-based cable companies in the data market, including service offerings, expansion plans, strategies, technology suppliers and choices, target markets and resulting customers and businesses.
READ SUMMARY
Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
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ANALYST
Tim Kridel
Tim writes for both Mobile Networks Insider and Cable Industry Insider. He has previously covered the wireless and cable industries for a number of research firms, including Heavy Reading.
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Tim Kridel
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CONTRIBUTING ANALYST
Craig Leddy
A contributor to Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider, Craig is a veteran cable industry writer, speaker, and market analyst.
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Craig Leddy
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ANALYST
Denise Culver
Denise is the author of IP Services Insider. She has more than ten years' experience in technology journalism.
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Denise Culver
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