This weekend (2 August) will see BT Sports switch on the UK's first Ultra High Definition channel, which will show the FA Community Shield match between Chelsea and Arsenal. BT customers can upgrade to get the Sports Ultra HD channel now, and here is everything you need to know.
What is Ultra HD?
Ultra HD is a resolution that is four times greater than High Definition. This means UHD televisions have four times as many pixels as HD screens, producing an image that has a higher quality. UHD is also known as 4K and BT Sport Ultra HD is the first UHD channel to broadcast in the UK. Until now, the only UHD content has been a small selection of programmes and films on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, plus independent videos on YouTube and Vimeo.
How much does BT's UHD channel cost and what is included?
BT Sport Ultra HD comes bundled with the new Entertainment Ultra HD package, which includes over 80 Freeview channels (13 are in HD), plus on-demand content through BBC iPlayer and Channel 4. The package includes BT's new 1TB UHD box, which can pause and rewind live TV and record up to 600 hours of standard definition TV, or 250 hours of HD.
This TV package costs £15 per month, plus a £44 installation fee.
What will be broadcast on BT Sport Ultra HD?
- 2 August Arsenal v Chelsea FA Community Shield
- 8 August Manchester Utd v Tottenham Barclays Premier League
- 15 August Southampton v Everton Barclays Premier League
- 22 August Manchester Utd v Newcastle Barclays Premier League
- 19/20 August MotoGP Silverstone
BT says "other live events will be shown throughout the season, including games from the UEFA Champions League, Barclays Premier League, FA Cup, Aviva Premiership Rugby and MotoGP.
Do I need a really fast internet connection to watch the UHD channel?
In short, yes. UHD video files are massive and require a huge about of bandwidth to be delivered smoothly and at a high bitrate. Where UHD content from Netflix and Amazon can be buffered to hide any momentary drops in performance − and only require around 20Mbps as a result − live UHD television requires much more.
BT says the UHD channels requires a 44Mbps connection, and while this is higher than the 38Mbps cap of its Infinity 1 package, the company says Infinity 1 customers will get UHD without a problem. Basically, if the line is physically capable of 44Mbps, then UHD will use it. However, very little will be left over for anything else, like recording HD channels and browsing the web on other devices.
Recording an HD channel takes 8.8Mbps and a regular channel needs 3.75Mbps, according to tests carried out by BT customers.
If you regularly watch UHD content while recording HD channels and browse the web on a laptop, then you might want to upgrade to Infinity 2, which has a peak speed of 76Mbps.
- Infinity 1 with the Entertainment Ultra HD package (and free weekend calls to landlines) costs £25 per month, plus a £16.99 monthly line rental, £35 Infinity activation fee, plus £44 installation. This package has a 40GB monthly usage cap, but currently (ending on 7 August) there is an online offer of unlimited data for the same price.
- Infinity 2 with the Entertainment Ultra HD package, plus free evening and weekend landline calls and unlimited data costs £45 per month, plus £16.99 line rental and £44 installation (there is no activation fee). Both packages require a 12-month contract.
Any more incentives?
Ending 7 August, BT is giving away a £125 Sainsbury's gift card with every Ultra HD order placed online. New Ultra HD customers also get a 15% discount on LG Ultra HD televisions sold through the BT shop. The discount is worth up to £500.
Will my television work?
Not all Ultra HD (or 4K) televisions will work with the BT Sports Ultra HD channel. Currently, no UHD televisions made by Toshiba will work, and only three models of Philips UHD TV will work at launch. Most displays from Sony, Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Philips will work fine, although some older Samsung sets will need the Evolution Kit to be purchased and installed, which costs £250.
Other televisions will not support the UHD service but may be able to access it through their HDMI ports. BT has published a guide to help you find out which screens work, and which only support the channel through a specific socket.