The next generation of television has arrived at Ohio State. Ultra-High-Definition (UHD) television, also known as 4K TV, launched on the Office of the Chief Information Officer’s cable television service on March 8 with the NASA 4K channel. Boasting a resolution of 3840 x 2160 for 8.3 megapixels, 4K TV is far more advanced than 1080p HD’s previous best resolution of 1920 x 1080 for 2 megapixels.
What’s remarkable about Ohio State’s 4K TV offering is that it is being provided through an in-the-clear channel, meaning if you have a 4K TV and OCIO basic cable service, you can receive the programming without needing a set-top box or decoder.
The OCIO telecommunications team spoke to several different engineers, ranging from TV manufacturers to companies that encode 4K programming, and everyone thought additional hardware would need to be purchased to make this work. Much to their surprise, OCIO technicians were able to accomplish it by re-purposing existing hardware.
Tim Dunham, Manager of Technical Services, attributes this to the fact that OCIO has a very robust head end. “When we built the video distribution system a few years ago, I was empowered to buy high quality hardware which has provided us great flexibility in the programming we provide the university. Nothing additional was purchased to create this channel.”
Head End Technician Matt Bath was instrumental in the completion of this project. Though he was busy with other job duties, he was able to work on it when he had moments of spare time. Matt acquired the native NASA signal from the satellite communications (SatComm) downlinking facility and experimented with OCIO’s existing hardware to confirm it could work.
Ohio State is not only being innovative by providing 4K TV for no additional fee (and without a set-top-box), but for the fact that it is even being offered at all. “I don’t know of any cable TV companies in Ohio at this time that have 4K. You can get 4K through DISH and DirecTV, but it’s primarily on Pay-Per-View programming, which requires paying additional to view the programming and certainly requires a set-top box. There are some over-the-top providers, like Netflix and VUDU, that provide 4K, but they also require some interface or app on your TV to receive and a pretty large data connection with your network provider,” says Dunham.
Since the launch of NASA 4K, OCIO has launched three more 4K channels. The following 4K channels are currently available:
- NASA 4K on channel 128.12
- Fashion One 4K on channel 128.9
- SES Demo on channel 127.4
- High 4K on channel 127.5.
All of the 4K programming is offered on Ohio State’s basic digital lineup for the Columbus campus. However, 4K is so new that some 4K TVs may tune to the programming on a different channel, depending on the make/model of the 4K TV. Programming is still very limited, so schedules for these channels are not yet available.
As more 4K programming is released, we plan on adding it to our basic lineup. Unfortunately, we will not be able to add 4K programming to our IPTV lineup at this time. Additional hardware and a set-top box would be required to encode 4K for IPTV and there are currently no IPTV set-top boxes available, though they are on the roadmap for manufacturers.
For more information about 4K TV at Ohio State, contact Manager of Technical Services Tim Dunham via email or at 614.292.0947.