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RDK Hops the Pond

Alan Breznick

Taking another big step for IP video boxes, cable’s Reference Design Kit (RDK) specs have incorporated support for the Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) standard used by European MSOs and other cable providers throughout the world. RDK Management LLC -- the joint venture of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), and Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) that’s overseeing the development and deployment of RDK -- announced Wednesday that RDK has added key technical components of the DVB standard. These key DVB-specific components include support for such elements as teletext and subtitles.

In addition, RDK Management said it’s working with its more than 150 software licensees “on a path to support the use of in-band DVB system information for European cable operators. The organization announced the twin moves at the Connected TV Summit in London.

RDK Management gave SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC) much of the credit for the advances, noting the video tech vendor made “significant contributions of software components.” SeaChange is one of the many equipment suppliers, software developers, consumer electronics manufacturers, chip makers, and system integrators that have licensed the RDK software for free.

The extension of DVB support should clear the way for more MSOs in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere to adopt the RDK standard for their forthcoming rollouts of IP video set-top boxes and video gateways. While pan-European MSO Liberty Global and a large German MSO, Kabel Deutschland GmbH , have already adopted the pre-integrated software stack for their IP video deployments, RDK has still been more North American-oriented since it was first developed by Comcast several years ago.

More than 15 cable operators globally have now adopted the RDK software, including Comcast, TWC, Liberty Global, and Kabel Deutschland. A number of other MSOs are still weighing whether and how to participate in RDK, including Cox Communications Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI). (See Top European MSOs Embrace Next-Gen Video.)

Although originally designed just for video services, RDK is now expanding its reach to broadband services too as cable operators and vendors seek to develop and deploy centralized, all-purpose gateways in subscribers’ homes. The idea is to craft one common software stack that can support that single gateway and all services. (See Comcast Commits to RDK-B.)

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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