& cplSiteName &

Comcast Tests Broadband-Fed Xcalibur Service

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is testing a new IP-capable video service in Augusta, Ga., that combines Web-fed content with the MSO's traditional video services, the Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the paper, the pilot effort, called Spectrum and dubbed internally as Xcalibur, leverages a set-top that lets consumers watch, search for, and view Web video on their televisions. The MSO reportedly could launch the service sometime next year.

Light Reading Cable blew the lid off that initiative -- first labeled as Excalibur and later as Comcast Converged Products -- in October 2009. (See Comcast Forges 'Excalibur' for IPTV.)

Sources familiar with the project have referred to it as a "managed over-the-top" video offering that will allow the MSO to offer it as an option as consumers become increasingly interested in using the Internet to fulfill their video needs.

In addition to providing defense against the "cord-cutting" trend, the service will give consumers a Web-to-TV option without requiring them to use specialized boxes from sources such as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Boxee . (See Boxee Launches Cord-Cutting Box and Google TV Guns for Cable Deals .)

Update: Comcast, we've been told, is not placing much emphasis on Web-sourced video at this juncture of the experiment. Instead, there's much more weight being placed on new user interfaces and navigation systems. Also, the broadcast-TV and on-demand video content being fed to the test units arrives via regular, non-IP means.

Although this offer is apparently targeted to Comcast's existing sub base, there are rumors that Comcast's longer-term strategy involves offering OTT subscription services outside its traditional footprint using adaptive rate video streaming. (See Rumor: Comcast Plots OTT Stealth Attack and Cable Adapting to Video's Streaming Future.)

Of recent note, the Comcast Converged Products, or CCP, division has been looking to fill some key technology posts, including Solutions Architect/Technical Program Manager (IPTV), and Metadata Software Engineer. Those job postings continue to bill CCP's work as the MSO's "next big thing," citing a "next-generation platform" that will provide video access to TVs, PCs, smartphones, and other devices.

According to the WSJ, the Augusta trial involves a "limited" amount of Internet content, including some Web video and access to some social-networking apps, though the MSO could expand this walled garden later. The MSO also hasn't decided when or if it will launch it wide, or what kind of price such a capability would carry. Comcast was not immediately available for further comment, but confirmed the "small trial" to the WSJ, noting that the MSO is "testing many technological approaches to understand how best to meet consumer interests..."

The story notes that Comcast boxes aren't currently being used to receive Web content, but that Comcast is using "experimental" hybrid QAM-IP boxes called "Parker" -- an apparent homage to the main character of the Spider-Man comics and movies.

However, Light Reading Cable reported last month that Comcast's new Residential Network Gateway (RNG)-class boxes can be "flipped" to support IP video via software and firmware upgrades. The MSO has already deployed millions of RNG boxes equipped with Docsis cable modems, essentially seeding its markets for a broader IP video strategy. (See Comcast 'RNG' Set-Tops Have IPTV Potential .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:15:59 PM
re: Comcast Tests Broadband-Fed Xcalibur Service

Although Comcast's RNG boxes can be flipped to do IP-based apps and content, it seems clear from the story that Comcast's testing a new box for this trial.  No hard evidence to cite here, but Comcast's been rumored to be using a box from Verismo in some way, and this trial seems like a nice candidate for that.  Here's a bit more on Verismo's ambitions to serve OTT and the concept of the "virtual MSO."  JB

Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:15:58 PM
re: Comcast Tests Broadband-Fed Xcalibur Service

Or not.  Also hearing that this is all about a next-gen gateway. More soon. JB

From The Founder
Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV

6|27|17   |     |   (0) comments

At ANGA COM 2017, Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX, updates Alan Breznick with VeEX's new products and technology. This includes VeSion cloud-based platform for network monitoring, AT2500-3G advanced spectrum analyzer and MTTplus-900 WiFi Air Expert module. He also comments on DOCSIS 3.1 deployment and Remote PHY technology.
LRTV Custom TV
The Overall Objective Is to Win the Game

6|26|17   |     |   (0) comments

SCTE•ISBE's Chris Bastian discusses Energy 2020's success to date and the importance of a flexible approach that allows for changes in specific strategies in order to reach significant milestones.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Let's Get Past SD-WAN Hype

6|23|17   |   04:02   |   (0) comments

Technology becomes a "shiny object" unless it's properly focused on solving business needs for enterprise customers, says Bill Grubbs, network solutions architect for CenturyLink. He explains to Light Reading why SD-WAN deployments have to be tailored to specific needs – and more.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Infinera's Sales Director Paints Tech's Big Picture

6|21|17   |   4:14   |   (1) comment

Shannon Williams, Infinera's director of sales, shares how she achieves work's many balancing acts -- between her role and the broader company, today and tomorrow's tech and more.
LRTV Custom TV
SD-WAN Innovation & Trends

6|20|17   |     |   (0) comments

Versa CEO Kelly Ahuja discusses with Carol Wilson the current status and trends in the SD-WAN market, Versa's innovation around building a software platform with broad contextualization, and the advantages that startups can bring to the SD-WAN market.
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Dario Talmesio on 5G in Europe

6|20|17   |   02:16   |   (0) comments

At 5G World 2017, Dario Talmesio, principal analyst and practice leader on Ovum's fixed and mobile telecoms European team, explains the emerging trends amongst European operators as they prepare for 5G.
LRTV Custom TV
Putting Power on a Pedestal

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments

ARRIS's John Ulm says a major accomplishment of SCTE•ISBE's Energy 2020 program is increased focus on power cost and consumption, including inclusion of energy requirements in operators' RFPs and RFIs.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit Access: The Last-Mile Pipe for All Future Services

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments

A Gigabit access platform being deployed today must be able to deliver all types of services to an increasing number of devices. A non-blocking architecture is necessary to support the ever-increasing growth in bandwidth demand. The Huawei Gigabit access solution is based on a distributed design that is fully scalable to deliver a unprecedented performance.
LRTV Custom TV
Key Factors to Successfully Deploy an SD-WAN Service

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments

As service providers transition their SD-WAN solution from trials and limited deployments into production at large scale, there are important considerations to successfully operationalize these solutions and realize their full potential, without adding complexity, introducing uncertainty or disrupting current business operations. Sunil Khandekar, CEO and Founder ...
LRTV Custom TV
IoT Solutions: Rational Exuberance

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments

IoT solutions are morphing from hype into viable business opportunities. Huawei has the platform and ecosystem support to help carriers successfully address new business opportunities in the IoT space.
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing ICN as a Network Slice for Mobile Data Distribution

6|19|17   |     |   (1) comment

Network slicing in 5G allows the potential introduction of new network architectures such as Information-centric Networks (ICN) as a slice, managed over a shared pool of compute, storage and bandwidth resource. Services over an ICN slice can benefit from many architectural features such as Name Based Networking, Security, Multicasting, Multi-homing, Mobility, ...
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Mike Roberts on 5G Uptake

6|19|17   |   04:08   |   (0) comments

Mike Roberts, research director for Ovum's service provider markets group, explains why he has boosted his 5G subscriptions forecast.
Upcoming Live Events
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
No Imagination: UK Chip Biz Goes Up for Sale
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/22/2017
Does AT&T Deserve Time Warner?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/23/2017
Netflix's Lesson in Culture Expectation Settings
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
Verizon Takes 'One Fiber' to More Cities
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/22/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.