EE and British start-up V-Nova appear to have solved the problem of streaming 4K Ultra HD video over ultra low-bandwidth connections.
A live trial of V-Nova’s Perseus technology using EE’s 4G network has demonstrated that 4K video at 50fps can be comfortably streamed to full sized TVs on connections as slow as 6Mbps.
When you consider that 4G download speeds on average weigh in at 14.7Mbps, that’s pretty amazing.
As EE’s head of video strategy Matthew Stagg says in the video below, this means 4K content can be enjoyed in a wider variety of locations.
Related: 4K compression tech could squeeze Ultra HD streams down crappy broadband and COGO promises 4K Ultra HD streams on superslow 10Mbps While EE’s 4G coverage is now available to most folks across the UK, technical limitations mean that dense city areas, remote country areas and customers on fast-moving trains still find it hard to stream video content.
Enter Perseus, which makes it possible for high definition video to be enjoyed even on seriously slow speeds – in the video below, we see Stagg and the EE team driving out of London and down to the New Forest in Hampshire.
Stagg said: “We’ve been watching this Full HD video for the entire journey, from central London to here… we’ve seen no interruption in service. We’ve seen no stalling, no reduction in quality. It’s just been a fantastic experience the whole way.”
The 90-mile trip saw signal handed over across over 40 EE masts with no interruptions, meaning unless your train passes through a tunnel, this technology ought to allow for a more enjoyable commute.
In deepest darkest central southern England, where you can only get 300kbps down, that’s still enough for Perseus to comfortably deliver 720p HD video, which, depending on how old your phone is, will probably be enough.
As well as giving mobile customers a mobile video boost, the trial also paves the way for 4K TV content to be delivered in the home. Customers living in homes where only slow fixed-line connections are available could use a 4G dongle, like the EE Osprey shown off in the video, to deliver 4K content from the likes of Netflix, Amazon and even BT, which is currently in the process of buying EE’s mobile and home broadband operations.
Currently, Netflix says that you’ll need, at the absolute minimum, 15Mbps of spare bandwidth on a fixed-line connection to stream its 4K 24fps content, but recommends 20-25Mbps to be on the safe side. BT Sport Ultra HD, delivered via BT’s multicast network, needs 44Mbps. V-Nova’s Perseus could have what it takes to slay the bandwidth gorgon and bring UHD content to the non-superfast masses.
For the moment, this trial is more about demonstrating how Perseus can help network providers deliver to mobile customers on the go.
Related: EE launches micro cell network to boost rural 4G broadband and voice coverageGuido Meardi, V-Nova CEO and co-founder added: “The trial of Perseus with EE delivers many advantages beyond bitrate reduction, including significantly increased processing speed, lower power consumption, increased robustness, and graceful, block-free degradation at ultra low bitrates.
“These elements are all necessary to ensure the seamless delivery of premium services to people on the move.”
So, the question remains, when the hell are we going to see Perseus rolling out on EE and other provider’s networks? While neither company is saying anything today, it looks like it couldn’t be long before this is a reality for customers.
Eric Achtmann, exec chairman and co-founder of V-Nova describes Perseus as a software solution that sits on top of the existing infrastructure, so everything that’s already running will continue to do so.
Perseus is, in Meardi’s own words, ‘a different way to encode the signals into numbers,’ suggests that no expensive equipment will need to be installed at EE masts.
EE’s 4G coverage currently reaches 92 per cent of the British population. It’s gunning for 99 per cent coverage by 2017.
Update: We erroneously referred to EE’s head of video strategy as ‘Andy Stagg’ even though his name is clearly displayed in the video above. This has been corrected.