LAS VEGAS — 4K televisions being touted at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) promise phenomenal-quality viewing in the years ahead. But traditional broadcast infrastructure may not be able to cope with the extra demands, and broadband pipes may not be fat enough either, says one exec.

“The only way a wireline operator is going to be able to provide 4K is to be able to use HEVC to compress much more efficiently,” says the SVP of Cisco Systems’ new service providers’ video infrastructure group Joe Cozzolino.

“Instead of using 5Mbit for MPEG-4, they would need to use 18Mbits for 4K. They can’t afford that. They need to bring that back down to 8 or 9Mbits.”

The upcoming High-Efficiency Video Compression (HEVC) codec Cozzolino is talking about, which Beet.TV has previously written about, promises to cut streaming file sizes by up to 50% without losing quality. For larger starting videos like 4K, compression could be key to wider adoption.

At CES, Cisco announced enhancements to its technology which lets customers transcode video in the cloud, removing the need to own expensive hardware for local transcoding in the new, more intensive format.

But Cozzolino, who joined from Google/Motorola in the fall, still doesn’t see 4K TVs being able to take full advantage of the content until compression algorithms are embedded in sets sold circa 2016.

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