DISH is first to complete the 4K product-content-distribution loop

by Steve Blum • , , ,

Any 4K you have.

Like HDTV before it, 4K ultra high definition television programming will enter the U.S. consumer mainstream via satellite. At its CES press conference yesterday, DISH Network announced that it will soon offer the 4K Joey. That’s what it calls its new set top box that streams satellite-delivered UHD channels to any 4K-capable television. Content availability, though, is less clear. According to the company…

DISH will deliver 4K content from several providers. Specific announcements will be made closer to the consumer launch of 4K Joey, which is slated for the second quarter.

Vivek Khemka, DISH’s SVP of product management, claimed that the new box is the first to be compatible with any 4K TV that uses the HDMI/HDCP standards.

The 4K Joey will be built on top of a Broadcom dual-core chipset and Broadcom 7448 dual-core ARM processor that Khemka says will support 4K at 60 frames per second.

Assuming the content is there – programming produced in 4K or better, not just HD bumped up as best as possible – DISH is providing the fuel that can make CEA’s prediction of a 4K firestorm feasible. Expect DirecTv to follow, at least in 4K-to-the-press-release fashion. And DISH’s other big announcement yesterday – streaming traditional sports, news and other live and linear channels over the Internet – means it’s positioned to deliver that 4K content that way too.

If broadband networks can handle the load. With continuous streams in the 5 to 10 Mbps-plus range – maybe several times plus if the programming is live – it won’t take too many 4K-capable homes on a given DOCSIS or VDSL node to slam traffic to a crawl. Copper might handle those speeds for a few, but with U.S. 4K penetration forecast to clear the 20% breakout hurdle before the end of the decade, the only plausible alternative now to satellite is fiber.