NAB 2017: Two MVPDs Roll Out 4K with SES, Vivicast

Marquette-Adams, Highlands Cable Group pivot out of trials
SES 4K channel lineup - 9 channels.jpg

Two U.S. MVPDs, Wisconsin’s Marquette-Adams and North Carolina’s Highlands Cable Group, have moved beyond earlier trials with a commercial rollout of linear Ultra HD services.

The launch features a pre-packaged batch of UHD channels via SES’s satellite-delivery platform and in partnership with Vivicast Media, which handled the licensing rights for the 4K fare.

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The UHD programming lineup features ten channels in the format: Fashion One 4K, Travelxp 4K, 4KUNIVERSE, NASA TV UHD, Insight TV, UHD1, C4K360, Funbox 4K, Nature Relaxation 4K, as well as SES’s UHD demo channel. SES is hosting the channels using a set of satellites (SES-1, SES-3, AMC-18) that provide 100% coverage of cable head-ends in the U.S., the company said. SES will demo its UHD platform at this week's show in Las Vegas at booth SU1910.

SES said more than 20 MVPDs representing an audience of nearly 10 million subs are involved in its UHD trials and deployments. Other announced partners include Verizon Communications, Frontier Communications, Buckeye Broadband, Service Electric Cable TV, enTouch Systems, Cable America, Golden West Telecommunications, MTC Cable, Aureon, GVTC Communications, KPU Telecommunications, Service Electric, Shrewsbury Community Cable, and Sjoberg’s Cable TV.

RELATED: Verizon Teams with SES on Ultra HD Trial

“We have delivered on our bold plan announced at NAB two years ago, which was laser-focused on enabling linear Ultra HD home delivery in half the time it took HD to reach the same television milestone in the US,” Steve Corda, VP of business development in North America for SES, said in a statement. “SES cut through the operational and technical barriers with our scalable solution delivered via satellite, which provides high quality Ultra HD and can reach over 100 million television households throughout North America."

“Vivicast Media and SES have together greatly accelerated the delivery of compelling Ultra HD TV networks to homes across the US, including the world’s first High Dynamic Range channel, Travelxp,” added Stuart Smitherman, president of Vivicast.

SES has been delivering 4K TV at 18 Mbps using HEVC coding. In an earlier interview, Corda reasoned that that bit rate squares with cable operators, because it allows them to fit two 4K TV signals into a 6MHz-wide channel.

That bit rate also enables SES to balance video quality and cost, while allowing four UHD signals to fit into a satellite transponder, and up to 16 UHD channels to be remultiplexed on a satellite receiver.

RELATED: SES: 18 Mbps Is the Right Rate for 4K TV (subscription required)

Most of the cable operators that in the pilot are delivering the signals over QAM transport to set-top boxes, but some are also considering deliver over DOCSIS networks using IP multicast technology.

DirecTV, Layer3 TV, Dish Network, and Comcast are among other U.S. MVPDs that have rolled out or are testing 4K services.

RELATED: Layer3 TV Adds Live, On Demand 4K Fare