Light Reading

Comcast Forges 'Excalibur' for IPTV

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has an underground IPTV and video convergence project underway, code-named "Excalibur," Cable Digital News has learned.

Comcast hasn't released any details about the project, said to be near the top of the MSO's priority list. But sources familiar with Excalibur say its aim is to develop a "services overlay" that would put all IP services, including video, into a common provisioning and management system. Sources also say Excalibur will use a form of digital rights management (DRM) for security.

However, a Comcast official said it's more appropriate to call the work a "natural extension of the work we're doing" with IP. Comcast has been using IP for years to deliver voice, Internet access, and even some video applications, the official added. (See SCTE Expo: MSOs Prep IPTV Push .)

Comcast is expected to use Excalibur to help it pursue an IPTV strategy that includes personalized, unicast video services -- although older, QAM-based video will still factor in for years to come.

But the broader vision has Excalibur factoring in with Comcast's "TV Everywhere" ambitions, which involve delivering IPTV to PCs, smartphones, and myriad other video displays that speak IP. (See Comcast Web TV Trial: 10,000 Being Served and Comcast Nears 'TV Everywhere' Launch.)

Industry sources say about 100 employees are involved with Excalibur, with Comcast Interactive Capital president and founding partner Sam Schwartz running point on the project.

A Comcast official confirmed that Schwartz has been named president of a newly created division called Comcast Converged Products, a position that reports to Comcast CTO Tony Werner. Industry sources say Schwartz gets at least five direct reports.

It's said that a good portion of the work centered on Excalibur/Comcast Converged Products will be done in Radnor, Pa., where Comcast already operates some facilities and where the GuideWorks LLC joint venture is based.

Excalibur is hiring
Although Comcast isn't shouting about Excalibur from the hilltops yet, some public information about it has emerged. The "odinjobs" beta site lists three recent job postings for Excalibur: a lead architect, a system administration support consultant to support the "Excalibur Content Ingest team," and a procurement lead. The location listed for all three is Philadelphia.

The postings also share some detail about Excalibur, characterizing it as Comcast's "next big thing":

Comcast is going to change the way America looks at television. Sound exciting? Then be a part of our next big thing. Our customers want access to entertainment from every source and we are going to bring it to them! Whether it is their TV, PC, smartphone, or the next cool device, we are building a next-generation platform that will serve them all and provide a seamless experience. It is the converged world we have all been waiting for.

Microsoft, Adobe in hot pursuit
It's unclear whether Comcast has issued any formal requests for proposals (RFPs) or requests for information (RFIs) on Excalibur, but multiple sources say Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE), and Intertrust Technologies are among those in the running for the DRM component. Comcast has already shown interest in bringing Adobe Flash to the set-top environment. (See Comcast Offers Glimpse of Flash Strategy .)

It's not clear yet who has the inside track, but one source familiar with the project says Comcast is concerned about Adobe's consumption-based licensing terms.

Comcast didn't confirm any Excalibur-related talks with those vendors, but noted that it's holding conversations with "hundreds" of companies for different components and applications that may or may not end up becoming part of the project.

What ends up emerging from all this work is still in flux. "There are no product plans or specific products to talk about at this time," the Comcast official said.

While Comcast's Excalibur project is high on ambition, the name may not score many points for originality. In days of Docsis yore, Excalibur was also the code name Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) used for its Road Runner high-speed Internet service.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to TelcoTV 2009, the telecom industry’s premier event for the exploration of a comprehensive entertainment convergence strategy, to be staged in Orlando, Fla., November 10-12. For more information, or to register, click here.

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:53:19 PM
re: Comcast Forges 'Excalibur' for IPTV

top 10, at least.

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:52:55 PM
re: Comcast Forges 'Excalibur' for IPTV

lol I'm sure

From The Founder
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (9) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (1) comment

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
SDN Management & Orchestration in the WAN

11|17|15   |   7.20   |   (0) comments

Carol Wilson and Packet Design CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu discuss CSPs' SDN service delivery and assurance requirements. Learn about a modular approach to building automated control, orchestration and management functions for the WAN that are policy- and analytics-driven.
LRTV Custom TV
Flash Networks: Optimizing for Radio Spectral Efficiency

11|17|15   |   3:34   |   (0) comments

Today most optimization vendors only focus on optimizing voice or data. Ofer Gottfried, Flash Networks' CTO, shows how improving data throughput and maximizing spectral efficiency reduces capital and operating expenses while also providing a platform for user engagement.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Pay-TV User Experiences Millennial-Friendly

11|16|15   |   6:42   |   (0) comments

The unique challenge of reaching and engaging Millennials is driving pay-TV video experience transformation that can include higher quality UIs, viewing of multiple content streams at once and seamless transitions between handheld devices and the television.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Electric Power Summit 2015 – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

11|16|15   |   1:28   |   (0) comments

Huawei, together with Ethiopia's Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, hosted the Huawei Electric Power Summit 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The event gathered industry experts and senior executives of global electric power companies to discuss emerging industry trends including: improvements in new energy conversion efficiency, reduction of line losses ...
Allot MobileTrends Report H2/2015 reveals how daily online behavior can be used to discover smarter ways to profile customers and propose valuable, real-time offers to them.
Hot Topics
Samsung to Sell Wireless Networking Unit?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Sprint, Verizon Face Reorganization, Job Cuts
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/20/2015
Sprint to Get $1.2B From New Leasing Venture
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
How Might Open Source Fail?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/24/2015
Networking Shines in HP's Gloomy Final Earnings
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
Mobily CEO Ahmad Farroukh talks to Steve Saunders about the realities of being a mobile operator in Saudi Arabia.
Cats with Phones
Can't Find the Phone on Thanksgiving? Click Here
Check under the cat! (hint: bottom right)
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.