Light Reading

Comcast's X1 Flies Into Philly

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

New triple-play customers in Comcast Corp.'s corporate backyard will be among the first to get a taste of the operator's next-generation video platform following the debut of the X1 service in the Philadelphia area. Following a "soft-launch" last month, the more formal rollout of the service covers Comcast's Freedom Region, which also includes central New Jersey and the Northern Delaware Valley, a spokesman says. The Freedom region marks the sixth Comcast market to get X1, a service that features a new cloud-based interface, access to a touch-based remote app for iPhones, integrated Web apps from Pandora and Facebook alongside sports, news and weather widgets. Following its debut in Boston last May, X1 is now offered in Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and several Comcast California systems (San Francisco Bay area, Sacramento, Stockton, Fresno and Santa Barbara). (See Comcast's X1 Rolls Into California.) The launch in Philly was expected and fulfills the X1 market commitments made by Comcast last year. The company hasn't disclosed its 2013 deployment plans, but X1 will be launched in additional markets this year, a Comcast spokesman said. (See Philly Next For Comcast's X1.) Comcast is expanding the IP-capable X1 service as the operator faces competition from traditional rivals as well as over-the-top competition. Comcast is still losing video subscribers, though losses have been slowing down in recent quarters. But rather than wielding X1 as a retention tool, Comcast is using the service in its campaign to acquire new triple-play customers. Early on, the whole-home DVR set-up for the X1 comprises the XG1, a multi-tuner DVR from Pace plc, that connects via MoCA to RNG150N client boxes. Comcast is currently deploying a Pace-made version of the RNG150N, but it has also approved models from Cisco Systems Inc., Motorola Mobility LLC and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Further down the road, Comcast is expected to also offer the X1 service on a new class of "headless" gateways that can transcode video and ship it via MoCA or Wi-Fi to IP-connected tablets, smart TVs and its new IP-only Xi3 HD client box. (See Comcast's All-Service Gateways Go 'Headless' and Meet Comcast's IP-Only Set-Top.) The X1 product lineup is based on the Reference Design Kit (RDK), Comcast's integrated software platform for hybrid QAM/IP and IP-only set-tops and gateways. (See Comcast's Set-Top Accelerator Gains Traction.) — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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