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Sony puts another piece to 4K streaming puzzle, readying for summer launch

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Sony has licensed video compression technology from a startup company called Eye IO in an effort to ensure that it can deliver 4K video over broadband for the 4K streaming service it wants to launch this summer.

The company has indicated that everything is on schedule for the launch, though a date hasn’t been confirmed, and pricing and availability are still unknown. Sony had originally announced plans for the industry’s first 4K streaming service at CES in January, though there have been questions over how so much data will be deliverable through current broadband infrastructure.

The point of contention is that a 4K movie may require a bitrate of more than 20Mbps encoded in the current standard of H.264 MPEG-4. Even with compression, a two-hour film would take more than 20-30GB of bandwidth, an enormous figure for consumers with limited monthly download caps.

Eye IO has suggested its compression method uses only one-third of the bandwidth Sony initially expected, without specifying what the measuring stick was. It turns out Sony doesn’t want those figures revealed, at least for the time being. Eye IO is known in the industry, having been certified for designation, the first in the streaming industry to do so. They also count Netflix as a client, so we may be hearing more about them.

Some of the films confirmed for the the streaming service’s launch include The Amazing Spider-Man, Total Recall, Bad Teacher, Battle: Los Angeles, Salt, That’s My Boy, The Other Guys, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Karate Kid and Taxi Driver.

The service will also be exclusive to Sony’s 4K Ultra HD TVs, starting with the 55-inch and up to the $25,000 84-inch model. There has been no word on whether it will expand further to other manufacturers, and if other studios might eventually join in.