ITU releases recommended standards for Ultra HDTV

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), based in Geneva, has recommended the next step in television broadcasting that will create an entirely new environment to support the emergence of “Ultra High Definition Television,” or UHDTV. When (or if) it shows up in consumers' living rooms is anyone's guess, as the challenges to fullscale implementation are significant..

ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) developed the standard—or Recommendation—in collaboration with experts from the television industry, broadcasting organizations and regulatory institutions working within its Study Group 6. ITU-R Study Group 6 is now drafting a new Recommendation on the technical details of UHDTV, which is now being submitted to various country administrations for approval.

The recommendation lays out the quality standards for UHDTV in two steps. The advances made with each of these quality steps are similar to the transition plan developed for the migration from standard- to high-definition television (HDTV), the group said.

HDTV pictures today have the equivalent of between 1-2 megapixels. The first level of UHDTV picture levels has the equivalent of about eight megapixels (3 840 x 2 160 image system), and the next level comes with the equivalent of about 32 megapixels (7 680 x 4 320 image system). UHDTV systems are more commonly referred to as those featuring 4K and 8K resolution.

UHDTV picture quality features improved color fidelity and options for higher numbers of pictures per second, compared to today’s television systems.

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré praised the work of the study group. “UHDTV is an earth-shaking development in the world of television,” he said. “Watching UHDTV in the near future will be a breath-taking experience.”

David Wood, chairman of the ITU-R Working Party 6C, said the new standard is the dawn of a new age for television that will bring unprecedented levels of realism and viewer enjoyment.

“It’s a historic moment,” Wood said. “Some years will pass before we see these systems in our homes, but come they will. The die is now cast.”

See UHDTV video