Ding Wenhua tells me China will distribute the coming generation of TV, UHD, at 36 megabits. Bell Canada intends to use 24 megabits and I believe most in the U.S. 15-25 megabits. The comparison with America is mine. Ding merely provided his specification; I drew the conclusion.
The actual difference in the picture will be modest; most networks are sacrificing a little quality to save money. You'd have to look closely at an excellent TV to see the effect. It remains an impressive achievement.
China can support the higher data rate because of the extraordinary broadband network they have built in the last six years. 344 million homes have been connected directly to fiber, most capable of a gigabit. China Mobile continues to add four million more fiber home connections each month. That rate must slow soon: there are only 455 million homes.
Not long ago, many of those homes were effectively limited to speeds under 50 megabits by insufficient backhaul capacity. The situation has improved dramatically in the last year or two. A friend in Shenzhen tells me 500 megabit service is common in her city.
When Ding studied at the Communications University of China almost 40 years ago, there was perhaps one television for every hundred people. Deng Xiaoping was just starting to change the economic system.
Today, the Spring Festival reaches an audience of 500,000,000. As Chief Engineer of CCTV, he was one of the builders of the world's largest network. He's also a technical leader. He was at the Huawei Geneva UBBF to describe his work on UHD, the emerging video standard. He is close to many in the industry including in California.
CCTV faces the same challenges broadcast networks do elsewhere. Baidu owns over the top broadcaster iQiyi with 60,000,000 subscribers, more than Netflix has in the United States. CCTV is looking for revenue from foreign sales. We discussed how the 225,000,000 new 4G subscribers in India are creating a very large market.
My generation grew up with President Kennedy demanding, "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country." Today in the U.S., leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Sergei Brin are decent people, mutual friends tell me. But the sense of community spirit is much weaker today in my country. I'm not naive about the price paid by the Chinese or the nature of the government, but I have discovered the best of the Chinese have a similar spirit.
The leaders of CCTV, China Mobile, and Huawei focus day-to-day on building their companies profitably. MIIT can and has fired the President of China Telecom for not delivering profits as expected. I've had a chance to meet a few. The best of the Chinese are like the best of the Americans, dedicated to the true welfare of their country.
If he had been born a little earlier, he would probably have been "sent down" to the countryside. ITU Secretary-General Haolin Zhau once told me how hard the life was with the peasants. Zhau has had an illustrious career, but he told me he has never forgotten what he saw then. In every decision he makes, he always considers the effect on the less fortunate. "The best standard has no royalties," he said to me. Unreasonable royalty rates now can equal the entire cost of building a low-end smartphone, driving up the cost of connecting the next two billion.
When a was a boy, I resolved never to say to a child, "We were better than kids today." I've lived up to that, pretty much, and not just because recent generations are pretty boring.
But I am disappointed that the generation now assuming so much power thinks first of themselves. Mark Zuckerberg and Sergei Brin, mutual friends tell me, are basically decent people. But their priorities are different. I hear the same from Chinese of my age.
An extraordinary book, Ezra Vogel's Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China, taught me much of what I know about the country. Try it.
Huawei joined hands with leading parties in the UHD industry to form a new collaboration initiative.
China UHD Video Industry Alliance, UHD Forum, ITU, Wi-Fi Alliance, Content Suppliers of Hollywood and some leading TV and device manufacturers, agreed to work together in a global 4K UHD video industry cooperation initiative during the UHD video roundtable at the fifth Ultra-Broadband Forum (UBBF).
This is the first time that the value chain of content providers, device manufacturers, industry organizations and network operators have teamed up to streamline the value chain and grow the ecosystem with the aim of maximizing consumer value, marking a milestone for the global UHD video industry.
As stated in the initiative:
We recognize that deployment of best experience 4K UHD service is a major driving force for operators’ business development and competitiveness.
We aim to jointly develop sustainable business models through facilitating cooperation across content providers, device manufacturers and telecom operators.
We aim to establish a global 4K UHD video ecosystem and shape a healthy 4K UHD industry.
Will Zhang, President of Corporate Strategy of Huawei, said that:
The content, network, and terminal industries have reached a consensus on the technologies and standards of 4K UHD. However, the deployment of UHD video services is just beginning in the industry and faces many other challenges, such as network readiness, insufficient content and unclear business models. Thanks to the UHD video roundtable, we have witnessed the latest progress in various fields of the UHD industry and discussed the key elements for the success of the UHD industry. One thing in particular is the Early Window movie content in Korea. Discovering the value of Early Window brings significant revenue growth to content providers and operators in Korea. It's a great inspiration to everyone. After this roundtable, all players of the industry chain will further strengthen their collaboration. Studios are all investing in large-scale ultra-HD content production, and TV manufacturers are producing UHD TV sets. Today, with additional cooperation, we are more confident in the rapid development of the UHD industry for consumers.
This initiative establishes partnerships between all players of the industry chain and allows them to share experience and best practices with each other, improving user experience through collaboration between content production and aggregation companies, terminal vendors, and network operators. The partnership also allows exploration of innovative new 4K UHD business models. The initiative calls for global industry collaboration to create a mutually beneficial ecosystem for all members. As a leading global ICT provider, Huawei strives to ensure the best experience for 4K UHD videos.