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Sky prepares for UHD service launch

Ultra HD content will be available via SkyQ
With just a few months to go until Sky launches a new Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV service, test transmissions have started on satellite.

Earlier this week, Sky's Director of Strategy, Nick Herm, said that UHD would arrive on the platform by summer. UHD TV will be available to subscribers that have taken up SkyQ, the recently launched premium pay TV service and receiver package from Sky.

Preparations are now underway for the launch of the new service with encrypted test transmissions now live on satellite, using capacity on Astra 2E. Full details of the scope and pricing of Sky UHD, as well as a firm launch date are expected to be announced soon.

Sky's UHD service will launch almost a year after BT launched its first UHD channel. The first major broadcast test of UHD in the UK took place in 2014, when during part of the summer, test broadcasts were carried in selected locations via digital terrestrial TV by BBC R&D. Ultimately, it appears UHD will be the preserve of cable, internet and satellite operators, where sufficient capacity for the new broadcast standard is available.

Tuning details
Please note that this service requires an Ultra HD satellite receiver and is encrypted. Once officially live, Sky UHD will be available via SkyQ. The vast majority of devices won't be able to actually receive the service:
Frequency     10.743 
Polarisation: H
Symbol rate:  23000
FEC:          2/3
Mode:         DVB-S2 8PSK
Service IDs:  '9000' and '9006' linking to the same videostream


  1. There is plenty of capacity for UHD on Freeview, we just need to get rid of some of the pointless crap channels on the platform. I would far rather have a smaller number of higher quality channels, both higher program and picture quality.

    1. The current UHD tests take up around 30Mbps. Even if compression improves, you're not looking at more than 2 UHD channels per Freeview multiplex. With the number of multiplexes reducing and many of the major broadcasters moving to HD-only transmission in the long-term, the inclusion of UHD broadcasts on Freeview seems unlikely. And because fewer channels would be carried on each multiplex, the cost of distribution per channel would be significantly higher.

    2. We will end up with about 5 or 6 multiplexes. Half for UHD would give 6 channels, which is more than the number of decent HD channels we have now. And that still leaves 3 T2 muxes for all the other channels.

      I really do feel we have massively sacrificed quality in the drive for quantity. There are times when I look at the list of recordings I have scheduled and feel we haven't really moved forward since the days of four analogue channels with Nicam sound. There is properly room for about a dozen channels I feel, if all the crap and repeats are ditched.

    3. The extra cost of broadcasting in HD on Freeview already limits it to those channels who have licence fee funding, those who get money from the Kremlin, and those funded by oil rich Qatar, plus the biggest commercial channels. At the current time, UHD is prohibitively expensive and financially unviable, as it would currently involve a channel taking over a whole multiplex, or perhaps 1/2 in a few years time as encoders are improved, rather than the 1/5 or 1/6 for HD and 1/15 for SD on the commercial multiplexes.
      Unlike the days when there were four TV channels, the market is now too splintered and now dented by on-demand and catch-up TV to sustain a few linear channels that try and please all demographics. Commercial broadcasters make more by creating different services for different demographics to maximise commercial targeting. Those who want high quality pictures and sound will need to pay for it, as the current commercial model doesn't support it on a free-to-air basis.


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