China Ups the Ante on 8K

By Ben Schwarz

There has been a recent flow of news from China regarding 8K. This includes two conferences: one focused on advanced trends in China which includes 8K, AI, and 5G, and a second event talking about how 8K, 5G, and AI will be part of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

The World Ultra High Definition Video Industrial Conference was held in Guangzhou in May to showcase the latest cutting-edge high-definition technology. At the event, China Media Group announced the launch of an 8K-UHD public service platform following the public broadcaster’s earlier announcement of 4K and 8K channels.

The Chinese national news agency followed up three days later with this press release and this press release where, XIAO YAQING, Minister of Industry and Information Technology, reaffirmed China’s commitment to some of the industry’s key buzzwords: “Ultra-high-definition video technology, along with 5G and artificial intelligence, is a key direction in today’s information technology,” he claimed.

ZHANG LI President, China Center for Information Industry Development said, “Ultra-HD displays would help expand 5G commercial use in China and its development will help promote broadcast terminals, displays, and chips, and boost the digitization of the industry and content production”. He went one further by adding VR to the mix, explicitly naming 8K: “China’s 8K era is expected to come early. 8K terminals, including the technology product chain, is set up. In addition, digital content copyright protection is also in place and has been raised to a new level.”

At yet another conference, the first China International Intelligent Communication Forum (IICF) in Wuxi, east China’s Jiangsu Province, China Media Group (CMG) reemphasized their all-in strategy of “5G+4K/8K+AI, to make ample use of modern technology and create best-in-class content. Shen Haixiong, president of CMG then signed a cooperation deal with Jiangsu Province to help restore black-and-white films from the province’s past using artificial intelligence technology. The old videos will be digitally remastered into 4K or even 8K resolution with color. The project aims to help several cities in Jiangsu shine a light on their colorful histories.

But perhaps the most newsworthy announcement came more recently, on June 6th with a release on the Winter Olympics. Beijing2022: It’s snowtime’ media campaign launched in Beijing. Shen Haixiong, CMG’s president, promised that the media group would strive for perfection in making the best use of its “5G + 4K/8K + AI” media application to provide access to more people to watch the Winter Olympics in 8K Ultra High-Definition. “CMG will tell the best stories of Beijing Winter Olympics to the world and offer a colorful Olympic event to audiences on earth,” said Shen.

A quick note to Chinese translators on terminology: To get it right between 4K, 8K, UHD, Ultra High Definition, Ultra-High Definition, and Ultra High-Definition, you should read Sam Matheny, NAB CTO’s short blog explaining all the terms. But translators are excused as many experts still get the terms mixed up.

These announcements are thin on details and thick on expectation.  As a result, we are trying to reach out to various companies in the Chinese 8K ecosystem to learn more, especially with the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics only 8 months away.

The 8K Association can only be encouraged on behalf of the worldwide 8K community by these announcements. Many expect the China market to be a big driver for 8K adoption and these announcements are confirming the commitment. 

However, we wonder if Chinese operators will be more proactive than western ones on using new bandwidth-intensive services to promote new network offerings. In the early days of 4K, satellite providers embraced the new resolution early on as they felt that DTH offered a clear advantage for TV over ADSL or terrestrial networks.  If CMG’s stated expressions are to be believed, 5G will be the preferred delivery path for 8K.