Taking a Look at 4K Technology

One hot topic that was discussed all around the IBC was 4K. Let’s take a look at what this new technology means. 

4K technology, or, to give it its official name, Ultra HD or UHD-1, is being mentioned as the next High Definition.  And experts say that 2013 is the breakout year for 4K2K TVs, with a market forecast to reach 7 million sets in 2016. But will the broadcast industry really invest into a 4K workflow – and when? Though hear about a number of 4K TVs that are all direct shippable, there are still a few issues that need to be resolved – apart from the price:

  • Consumers will need set-top boxes that deliver the relatively rare 4K content which is currently available (most is upscaled from HD to 4K).
  • There are not many Live TV cameras available that are able to produce 4K – except Sony’s F55 UHD.  A few, including Ikegami, have in fact skipped 4K and intend to start with 8K in a couple of years’ time.
  • Some countries have no way of delivering 4K, because they have already sold the available bandwidth to the cellular industry or re-allocated the frequencies to digital broadcasting.

If we look at it from a cabling perspective, 4K means that the bandwidth is growing:


  • HD –   1.5Gb/s (720p-1080i)
  • 2K –   3 Gb/s (1080p)
  • QFHD –   6 Gb/s (3840×2160)
  • 4K – 12Gb/s (4086×2160) – also known as UHD-1
  • 8K – 24 Gb/s (7680×4320) – also known as UHD-2


Belden offers a number of innovative broadcast connectivity solutions that optimize signal integrity and improve system performance. This not only reduces capital expenditure (CAPEX), it also provides greater reliability and flexibility in evolving high-bandwidth environments.

Over the next year, we will see what the market will do with the new 4K. Perhaps it will be fully embraced, or maybe we will start to see 4K as a compressed signal to make it fit into current cabling infrastructures. SMPTE has been working on new specifications to cover these higher bandwidths:

Standard Activities


– 1; to cover QFHD transport on single Coax

– 2; to cover QFHD transport on SM LC Fiber

– 3; to cover QFHD transport on QSFP 4x fiber

— Not standardized yet, will be published Q1 2014

SMPTE  ST 2082 (12G UHD-SDI)

– 1; to cover 4K transport on single Coax

– 2; to cover 4K transport on SM LC Fiber

– 3; to cover 4K transport on QSFP 4x fiber

— Not standardized yet – foreseen  2015

SMPTE  ST 2083 (24G UHD-SDI)

– 1; to cover 8K transport on single Coax

– 2; to cover 8K transport on SM LC Fiber

– 3; to cover 8K transport on QSFP 4x fiber

— Not standardized yet – foreseen 2022

When you see all this, it becomes clear that many activities have been started. And Belden is involved in many discussions within the broadcast industry. There are still many options: coaxial cables can support these high frequencies, are physically robust and require simple connectivity. The use of fiber cable can also provide sufficient bandwidth for HD. While the cost of fiber has been coming down recently, it is still expensive to implement and requires specialized system design, installation and maintenance, when compared to the traditional coax and BNC infrastructure.

By being in the forefront of these discussions, Belden is aware of the developments and able to support customers, whichever way 4K eventually takes us.

If you need more details about our solutions let me know and Email me at werner.eich@belden.com


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