NTT Docomo, KDDI bring 8K video closer

Japan’s goal to have ultra-high-resolution 8K video ready for prime time by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics edged closer Tuesday with separate announcements of successful tests by two of the nation’s three big mobile carriers.

NTT Docomo reported real-time wireless transmission of 8K video, demonstrating the viability of its proprietary technology for delivery of 8K video streams to smartphones and other devices.

KDDI said it has succeeded in sending 8K video over optical fiber, providing the means to broadcast sporting events captured from multiple perspectives for simultaneous display on compatible televisions.

NTT Docomo is collaborating with Nokia to develop technologies for fifth-generation — or 5G — mobile networks, and worked with the Finnish telecommunications equipment company to test its 8K wireless transmission technology.

For the tests, 8K video stored on a server was transmitted in compressed format to a base station over normal lines and from there transmitted in the form of radio signals to special 5G handsets.

A movie in 8K contains a huge amount of data, but NTT Docomo’s technology was able to keep the time lag to within one-ten-thousandth of a second, which is good enough for real-time wireless delivery of sporting events and news.

Because the tests used special 5G handsets, no existing smartphones or tablets can take advantage of the service that NTT Docomo envisions. But once the infrastructure and equipment for 5G are available, people will be able to watch 8K video on a compatible device.

Meanwhile, KDDI succeeded sending 8K video over optical fiber in tests with Japan’s public broadcasting corporation NHK.

That feat is already possible with 4K. But because most of Japan has fiber to homes, this latest success means that people with 8K TVs will not only be able to watch broadcasts in the format but also enjoy unique experiences. For example, when watching a baseball game, the TV will be able to show two views at once, one of the whole field and another with close-ups of players, both in 8K.

Japan’s Ministry of Communications plans to begin trials of 8K broadcasts this year, with the goal of having the technology ready by 2020. It is unclear how quickly 8K will permeate society and how much money companies will need to invest to make that happen. But both NTT Docomo and KDDI hope their own technologies will be adopted in the process.

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