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A few small cable companies are getting the first 4K Ultra HD trials this year

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While owners of 4K TVs aren’t entirely starved for content, there is still a long way to go. While DirecTV offers a few Ultra HD channels, most 4K content comes from streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Vudu.

It will still be a while before cable subscribers can expect 4K across the bulk of their channels, but a small number of cable providers will begin offering a handful of Ultra HD channels later this year. Satellite company SES announced on Wednesday that it is shipping HEVC 4K IP set-top boxes to cable operators to prepare for customer trials of 4K service.

Unless customers of the participating cable companies are space or fashion buffs, chances are the 4K channels won’t include their favorites. SES will supply four channels at first: NASA TV UHD, Fashion One 44, High 4K TV, and the company’s own UHD1 channel.

As with the channel lineup, the locations of participating cable providers probably wouldn’t be your first guess either. The cable companies that have signed agreements with SES so far are Cable America in Missouri, Golden West Telecommunications in South Dakota, MTC Cable in New York, Sjoberg’s Cable TV in Minnesota, and ATMC in North Carolina. None of those companies are huge names, and that seems to be intentional.

“As millions of cable subscribers increasingly press for 4K content on their new Ultra HD TVs, some of the smallest cable operators in the U.S. are now leading the way to bringing Ultra HD to homes across the country,” SES vice president of business development Steve Corda said in a statement.

“SES’s breakthrough, fully-managed Ultra HD platform is enabling us to conduct the first-ever trials, which are bound to play a key role in the national and global rollout of Ultra HD.”

SES delivers its managed Ultra HD content over the standard DOCSIS 3.0 cable format, which it claims is superior to internet-based 4K content due to dedicated bandwidth. As for when customers will get the chance to see this for themselves, there is no word so far on a potential rollout date for the Ultra HD trials.

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