4K video to go mainstream thanks to new compression tech

Streaming ultra-high definition video could soon be significantly less of a burden on your broadband network.

That’s thanks to a new method of compressing data that can reduce the size of 4K video files without a noticeable depreciation in footage quality.

The technology, which has been developed by V-Nova, uses around 50 per cent of the bandwidth currently needed by existing 4K formats.

V-Nova has roused interest amongst the telecoms and broadcasting industry, with 20 large companies now backing the tech, including Sky, Intel, and the European Broadcasting union.

The actual compression method is called ‘Perseus’, and could potentially see the average UK home broadband connection become capable of handling three simultaneous 4K streams.

At present, the average UK home network – that’s a speed of around 22Mbps – can only facilitate a single UHD stream, because the high-quality footage demands such vast amounts of bandwidth.

Netflix currently recommends a steady 25Mbps broadband connection to utilise its 4K streaming service, while analysis shows that between 12-16Mbps is typically required.

According to V-Nova, its Perseus technology can offer the same picture quality, albeit using network speeds of just 7-8Mbps.

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Speaking to the BBC, media expert Ian Maude, from Enders Analysis, said: “This is cutting-edge technology that will be welcomed by pay TV companies, and TV manufacturers because it will help drive 4K sales.”

“But there are still limiting factors to the take-up of 4K including whether networks are capable of meeting demand, having a device able to display an ultra-high definition picture, and the amount of content currently being shot in 4K.”

He added: “Ultra HD will still remain niche for some time but this technology will help.”

V-Nova claims that the compression tech will also make it easy to stream Full HD 1080p footage to mobile devices, by bringing bandwidth usage down to a similar level needed to play music.

Perseus is expected to first land in the United States and several European countries in the summer.

UK content distributors and broadcasters, meanwhile, will begin utilising the technology ‘before the end of this year’.