×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sony 4K TV Internet Video Service Will Bump Into Bandwidth Caps

Want to watch “Breaking Bad” in glorious Ultra HD, which offers four times the resolution of typical high-def? Today, getting the bleeding edge in home-video entertainment requires a pricier Sony 4K TV and media player — and users may run into bandwidth restrictions from their broadband service provider.

Sony has launched its direct-to-consumer 4K Ultra HD video download service, stocked initially with 70 movies and TV episodes. But among the obstacles facing the technology will be getting the content delivered to consumers.

According to Sony, the 4K movie titles will each take up 45 to 60 gigabytes, allowing users download and store up to 50 movies on the company’s FMP-X1 4K set-top. Sony’s using an encoding system from startup Eye IO to compress the video, but has declined to specify the compression rate.

The relatively hefty file sizes mean that users may quickly exceed bandwidth-usage restrictions set by many broadband providers, including AT&T U-verse, Cox Communications and Charter Communications. For example, AT&T’s top limit for U-verse Internet is 250 gigabytes per month — meaning consumers could hit the limit by accessing just a half-dozen 4K titles, and pay extra for anything over that. Comcast also is testing usage-based bandwidth pricing in several markets, with overage charges for customers who exceed certain thresholds.

While acknowledging the bandwidth issues, Sony says future compression technologies will reduce the size of 4K video by roughly half. It’s also worth noting that providers like Verizon and Time Warner Cable do not limit usage for broadband users today.

SEE ALSO: Sony Gears Up for 4K Ultra HD Internet Movie Service

For now, accessing 4K video will eat up a healthy chunk of broadband. Meanwhile, Sony is preparing to launch an Internet-delivered TV service later this year to compete with cable and satellite providers, having reportedly inked a preliminary agreement with Viacom. That over-the-top TV service also could be hampered by bandwidth caps.

Sony Entertainment Network’s Video Unlimited 4K service currently provides some 70 feature films and TV shows, with a library of 100-plus expected to become available in 4K Ultra HD before the end of the year. The service, currently available only in the U.S., also provides shortform videos in native 4K.

Available now on the service are eps of Sony Pictures Television’s “Breaking Bad” as well as movies including “Moneyball,” “Think Like a Man,” “Premium Rush,” “Ghostbusters,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Funny Girl” and “The Guns of Navarone.” Upcoming releases on Video Unlimited 4K are set to include “This Is the End,” “After Earth” and “Elysium.”

Sony’s download service, which it announced at the 2013 CES trade show in January, is aimed at spurring sales of 4K televisions. The consumer-electronics biz is hoping Ultra HD will become the next must-have category.

“We have been spearheading the advancement of 4K Ultra HD technology from the start and have now reached another milestone as promised with the Video Unlimited 4K service going live,” Sony Electronics president and COO Phil Molyneux said in announcing the service.

TV episodes will be available for purchase at $3.99 each, while pics are $7.99 for a 24-hour rental or $29.99 for a purchase. Select purchased titles include an UltraViolet digital version of the movie or TV show, to let users access the content on compatible devices.

Also Wednesday, Sony expanded its 4K Ultra HD TV lineup with the addition of the X850A series, available in 55- and 65-inch screens, priced at $3,999 and $5,499, respectively. Its top-of-the-line 84-inch XBR 4K Ultra HD unit costs $25,000.

SEE ALSO: Too Rich for Your Blood? Sony Starts Selling 4K Ultra HD Internet Movie Player for $699

To access Sony’s Video Unlimited 4K service, customers must purchase the FMP-X1 Media Player available for $699, or $499 if purchased together with a Sony 4K Ultra HD TV. Sony also is offering a program for owners of the Sony 84-inch 4K model to gain access to the download service, and the company plans to extend the feature to the Sony 4K projector.

The FMP-X1 player comes preloaded with 10 feature films — “Bad Teacher,” “Battle: Los Angeles,” “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” “The Karate Kid” (2010), “Salt,” “Taxi Driver,” “That’s My Boy,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “The Other Guys” and “Total Recall” (2012) — plus an assortment of video shorts.

Sony also said it is prepared to support the HDMI 2.0 specification across its 4K Ultra HD televisions via a firmware update to be available over the Internet by the end of 2013. The spec, recently released by the HDMI Forum, provides a significant increase in bandwidth better able to transmit fast-moving 4K Ultra HD 60p content such as sports.

Sony, a pioneer in 4K tech, introduced the first 4K cinema projectors in March 2005, and there are now more than 15,000 installed in theaters worldwide. The company’s new 4K Handycam FDR-AX1 consumer camcorder, shipping in October for $4,500, brings the technology to homevideo enthusiasts.

More Digital

  • Nancy Pelosi

    Facebook on Defensive Over Fake Pelosi Video

    Facebook faced growing criticism this week over its decision not to remove a video that was doctored to suggest that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was intoxicated during a recent public event. The video, which has been viewed more than 2.5 million times, had been slowed down notably, giving the impression that Pelosi was slurring her [...]

  • Little-Black-Mirror-Maia-Mitchell

    Netflix Launching 'Little Black Mirror' Spinoff Starring Maia Mitchell, Lele Pons, Rudy Mancuso, Juanpa Zurita and More

    To promote next month’s premiere of “Black Mirror” season 5, Netflix is launching a spinoff of three shorts — “Little Black Mirror,” with a cast that includes an ensemble of Latinx social-media stars. The three “mini-stories,” aimed at Spanish-speaking audiences, will key off the tech-dystopian universe of Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones’ anthology series. “Little [...]

  • Twitter

    Twitter Permanently Bans Anti-Trump Krassenstein Brothers, Who Deny They Broke Platform's Rules

    Twitter permanently suspended the accounts of Ed and Brian Krassenstein — progressive political activists famous for trolling Donald Trump and his supporters — with the company alleging the brothers used bogus accounts to amplify their reach on the platform. “The Twitter Rules apply to everyone,” a Twitter rep said in a statement. “Operating multiple fake [...]

  • Snapchat

    Snap in Talks to License Music to Let Snapchat Users Embed Songs in Posts

    Snap wants to up Snapchat’s music game. The company has been in negotiations with music companies including the big three — Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group — to license song catalogs for the Snapchat app, according to two industry sources familiar with the talks, confirming a Wall Street Journal report. [...]

  • T-mobile - Netflix - John Legere

    T-Mobile Passes Netflix Price Hike Through to Subscribers

    T-Mobile is getting ready to raise prices for subscribers who have taken advantage of its “Netflix On Us” promotion: The mobile carrier will begin charging existing customers who have participated in the promotion an additional $2 per month to account for Netflix’s recent price increase. Consumers will see their bill go up starting on 6/2. [...]

  • Oona King

    Snap Hires Google Exec Oona King as First VP of Diversity and Inclusion

    Snap continues to fill out the ranks of its revamped leadership team: The Snapchat parent tapped Oona King, most recently Google’s director of diversity strategy and a former member of British Parliament with the Labour Party, as its first VP of diversity and inclusion. King, who starts at Snap on June 11, is also the [...]

  • Chrissy Teigen

    Chrissy Teigen to Rule Over Small-Claims 'Chrissy's Court' in Show for Jeffrey Katzenberg's Quibi

    Chrissy Teigen is going full-on “Judge Judy” in a reality show ordered by Quibi, the mobile-video subscription start-up venture founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg. In each episode of “Chrissy’s Court,” the model-influencer will reign as the “judge” over one small-claims case. Like the reality TV shows it’s patterned after, the plaintiffs, defendants, and disputes are real [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content