KT Skylife CEO Moon Jae-chul, third from left, cuts the tape with other participants during a ceremony to mark the successful testing of the satellite-based programming for UHD TVs in Seoul, Friday. / Courtesy of KT Skylife
By Kim Yoo-chul
KT Skylife has successfully tested satellite-based broadcasting for ultra high-definition (UHD) TVs for the first time in the world, the firm said Friday.
It plans to offer pilot UHD content to subscribers next year with a goal of commercializing the service in 2015.
The firm used the advanced high efficiency video coding (HEVC) technology to ensure a seamless transmission of UHD content.
"We are closely collaborating with content providers and TV manufacturers to offer UHD TV content and programs as scheduled. Programs fit for UHD TVs will be available from 2015," KT Skylife CEO Moon Jae-chul told reporters.
Moon said the firm designated channel 26 for pilot UHD service.
Moon urged the government to financially support local content providers, saying the broadcasting industry needs to find new growth momentum.
UHD TV boasts image with four times the resolution of existing Full HD displays. Samsung and LG Electronics, the world's top two TV manufacturers, recently decided to cut the prices of their UHD TVs for market expansion. Prices of Ultra TV sets range from 6 million won to 9 million won ($8,046) in the country.
"The government needs to clear some regulatory issues in a bid to help Korea fully utilize UHD TVs as scheduled," Moon said.
TV manufacturers, which have been eager to find new business momentum at a time when people are shifting their focus towards tablets and smartphones, believe UHD TVs might provide them with a bonanza.
In an upcoming IFA trade show, one of the biggest technology exhibitions in the world that is annually held in Berlin, Germany, the Korean TV manufacturers plan to release an expanded lineup of their UHD TVs. Meanwhile, content developers and satellite providers will discuss how to effectively deal with changing market trends, said officials from Samsung and LG.
Like Korea, Japan has invested heavily in the infrastructure and supporting technologies for UHD TVs and set up a goal of providing the final of the "2014 FIFA World Cup" live, as the world's first full UHD non-pilot broadcast.
Moon said, "Korea may lose its current lead over Japan in the race for next-generation TVs if Korea fails to come up with detailed business plans."
Consumer demand for larger screens is expected to grow steadily. However, bigger screens will need better pictures, officials said.
Worldwide shipments of Ultra HD TVs are expected to hit 6.88 million sets in 2015 and 9.87 million in 2016, according to the data by Display-Search. For this year, around 930,000 Ultra HD TVs are expected to be shipped.