Verizon moves to satellite distribution for ultra HD TV trial

Verizon is about to push viewers’ expectations by starting a trial of ultra-high-definition television programmes that are up to four times the bandwidth of today’s high-definition TV.

But for the trial the company is bypassing current fibre networks and opting for satellite distribution. Verizon will be delivering so-called 4K programmes in the trial – with pictures that are 3840 pixels wide by 2160 pixels high.

Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES is to provide Verizon with text content from its pre-packaged Ultra HD platform, which combines a line-up of channels with reception equipment.

Even though the content will be delivered by satellite, it will be offered to customers of Verizon’s Fios service, which is mainly delivered via fibre to the home (FTTH) connections.

Erin McPherson, Verizon’s VP of programming & content strategy, said: “Verizon’s network is uniquely positioned to bring its customers the most innovative content solutions, including 4K/UHD. We look forward to driving the technology and delivering premier video experiences through our collaboration with SES.”

It is not clear whether the pact with SES is just for the trial or whether Verizon has a long-term plan to move Fios content from fibre – which requires terrestrial network distribution across the US – to satellite, which can be fed into the service from a central point.

Certainly SES hopes that it means a move to satellites for Verizon, which is competing with AT&T’s satellite-delivered DirecTV network. Steve Corda, vice president of business development for SES in North America, said: “This collaborative agreement between SES and Verizon marks an important milestone in the development of our Ultra HD solution. Leading television services providers, such as Verizon, are evaluating our platform as a way to integrate scalable and dedicated satellite bandwidth into their Ultra HD launch plans.”