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4K Ultra HD on Netflix will need just 15Mbps

A 15Mbps connection will be good enough to stream 4K Ultra HD movies, says Netflix boss Reed Hastings. 

The on-demand movie streaming service hasn’t announced when it’ll be launching the next-gen HD streams but it’s expected that they could be ready to go sometime in 2014. 

The average UK broadband speed is now 14.7Mbps. As rollout of superfast broadband continues under BT’s commercial plan and the BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) projects start to deliver, the average speed will increase and 4K streams should be available in more homes. 

4K Ultra HD on Netflix will need just 15Mbps
Thousands of pixels down a 15Mbps pipe: Will 4K on a tablet be worth the effort?

Read Recombu Digital’s guide to 4K Ultra HDSpeaking to Multichannel News, Hastings revealed that the minimum speed needed for 4K streams would be around 15Mbps adding that “If you’ve got a 50Mbps connection you’ll be fine.” 

This contrasts with Sony’s opinion that Europe’s broadband isn’t good enough for Gaikai and that the UK isn’t ready for 4K movies.  

Hastings also expects that the majority of customers will access 4K for the first time on tablets rather than TVs, due to costs and the ever-increasing pixel counts of devices like the Google Nexus 10. 

4G tests show that average speeds achieved on EE, O2 and Vodafone are around 16-20Mbps, although devices with faster antennas can theoretically go up to 150Mbps on EE’s network. Whether your eyes would actually be able to appreciate 4K on a 10-inch tablet screen is another matter; you’d need something with a resolution of 3840 x 2160. 

Multichannel News is a US-based site and so Hastings was talking to a US audience. If you’ve got a 50Mbps Virgin Media connection, don’t get excited just yet. 

The BBC yesterday teased us with a new-look version of the iPlayer which appeared to have ‘Ultra HD’ as a streaming option. The new iPlayer, which will launch next year, will bring a number of new features to the table via a series of updates. The BBC hasn’t elaborated further on 4K on iPlayer but it looks like its on the horizon in the UK.  

Image: citoki0815/Flickr

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