The BBC will use the World Cup to trial the delivery of ultra-high definition TV over both broadcast and broadband networks.
Three games from the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro – a last 16 match, a quarter final and the final – will be transmitted by satellite to the UK where they will be decoded and distributed, via existing broadcast and super-fast broadband infrastructure, to a number of compatible consumer UHD TV sets in selected R&D facilities.
The trials by BBC Research and Development, carried out in conjunction with research partner Arqiva and a variety of consumer electronics vendors and technology providers, will mark the first time live UHD coverage will have been delivered simultaneously over Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and Internet Protocol (IP) technologies ‘to the home’.
The BBC hopes the study will help them gain a better understanding of the latest UHD distribution technologies and standards in a live outside broadcast, which will help inform future development and best practices of a UHD service, but could also be applied to existing services and technology.
Matthew Postgate, controller of BBC R&D, said: “A major technical achievement, such as distributing UHD TV over DTT and IP simultaneously from Rio, can only be made possible by close collaboration with a range of organisations.
“The trials will prove hugely valuable in furthering our understanding of UHD technology, and potential distribution models for the future, as well providing real benefits for licence fee payers in the near-term.”
A major challenge of distributing UHD TV to the home is compatibility with existing broadcast and broadband distribution capacities so the trial will examine the use of High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) for distribution over both networks.
Steve Holebrook, managing director of Terrestrial Broadcast for Arqiva, said: “This is the first over-air demonstration of live UHD in the UK and uses new high efficiency transmitters and HEVC coding technology. We are delighted to demonstrate the future potential of the DTT platform using the benefits of the DVB-T2 standard which we first deployed in 2009 as a world first.”
The trials will also test the use of MPEG-DASH adaptive bitrate technology for over IP networks, which allows a user’s device to automatically select the best available picture quality according to the network bandwidth available at any given time.