So far only a few internet streaming services have taken the jump to 4K, but soon it will be possible to receive TV channels in 4K, too. DVB has approved DVB-UHDTV that enables 4K broadcasts in up to 60fps.
4K in up to 60fps and HEVC
Inside your TV there is a small tuner component that allows you to receive TV channels over cable, antenna or satellite. In Europe, these tuner components are based on the DVB standards.
The DVB group has just approved what has been dubbed DVB-UHDTV Phase 1. The standard allows TV channels to broadcast in 4K – or UHD – resolution in up to 60 pictures per second, which is great for sports.
It also supports 10 bits per pixel colors, which is a significant improvement over 8 bit per pixel, which is used for TV broadcasts today.
But you need new hardware
DVB wants to use HEVC compression to make UHD broadcasts possible. HEVC is far more effective than the current mpeg4 (H.264) standard in that it enables content makers to deliver the same picture quality at lower bitrates – or better picture quality at the same bitrates.
There is no mention of what a Phase 2 specification could potentially offer, but support for high frame rates up to 120fps and a wider color gamut with Rec.2020 is a guess.
To start receiving TV channels in 4K you need a TV or set-top box with support for the new DVB-UHDTV standard. It is unclear if current Ultra HD TVs support the standard. TV broadcasters also need to start broadcasting in 4K. Most TV channels are currently broadcasting in either 720p or 1080i.