Eutelsat demos Ultra HD channel, launches 3B satellite

Eutelsat HQ ParisEutelsat Communications is stepping up its commitment to Ultra HD, launching what it claims is Europe’s first demo channel encoded in HEVC at 50 frames per second.

The channel also has 10-bit colour depth, which, combined with the HEVC encoding and framerate, make up the key parameters for Ultra HD, according to the satellite operator.

The channel has gone live on Eutelsat’s Hot Bird video neighbourhood, which provides DTH reach of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and Eutelsat claims it the first station that can be received direct by consumers using the latest 4K TVs, equipped with DVB-S2 demodulators and HEVC decoders.

“The launch of this new channel is another milestone taking us closer towards the commercial roll-out of 4K TV channels that will propel broadcasting into a new era,” said Michel Chabrol, director marketing innovation and digital cinema at Eutelsat.

“Immense progress has been made with partners in the broadcasting chain since the launch in January 2013 of the first demonstration Ultra HD channel on a Eutelsat satellite. HEVC encoding combined with 50 frames per second are the next step the industry has been waiting for and we are delighted to demonstrate this performance through our Hot Bird satellites.”

The 4K channel will air extracts of a performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers, conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, in the Royal Chapel at Versailles, which was filmed in Ultra HD and encoded by ATEME.

At the same time, Eutelsat has announced the successful sea launch of its Eutelsat 3B satellite.

The satellite was launched by a Zenit-3SL rocket operated by Sea Launch from the ocean-based Odyssey Launch Platform in the Pacific Ocean, and was released into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Eutelsat 3B will replace the Eutelsat 3D satellite and will provide broadband, data, telecom and video services across a large footprint spanning from Brazil to Central Asia.

Eutelsat 3D will subsequently be co-positioned with Eutelsat 7A at 7° East to provide expansion capacity and enhanced in-orbit security for data, telecom and video markets in Europe, Turkey and Africa.