Light Reading
The X3, Comcast's first all-IP, high-def client box, could be a sign that IP video simulcast is on the way

Comcast Sizes Up All-IP Set-Top

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
4/4/2012
50%
50%

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has its first all-IP set-top box on the roadmap, Light Reading Cable has learned.

Industry sources say the model, referred to as the X3, is an IP-based, HD client device that's capable of running Comcast's new cloud-based navigation system and handling future services, including a network DVR. (See Comcast Explores Network DVRs and Comcast to Run Small Net-DVR Trial .)

The box appears to be the latest device tagged for Xcalibur, Comcast's next-gen video platform. The first product to come out of that project is the Pace plc -made X1, a hybrid QAM/IP video gateway equipped to support the MSO's new navigation system while opening the door to third-party applications such as Pandora Media Inc. and Facebook . Comcast is testing the X1 in Augusta, Ga., though sources say the MSO expects to start expanding those tests into at least one more market by May. (See Comcast to Swing Xcalibur Wide in 2012.)

How the X3 will source linear and on-demand video in the early going was not immediately known. However, its appearance on the roadmap suggests that Comcast may be pursuing the deployment of an IP video simulcast. While the amount of bandwidth required for that seems to vary, cable engineers have indicated recently that an MSO might need to carve out 24 to 32 channels to produce a full IP simulcast. Comcast is already in the process of reclaiming all of its analog spectrum to apply toward HD programming and new services like Xcalibur. (See MSOs Must Bust Out Bandwidth for IP Video Leap and Comcast Starts to Kiss Analog TV Goodbye.)

If the X3 is compatible with a future version of the X1 that includes real-time video transcoding, it's also been suggested that the X1 gateway could convert incoming QAM video into IP and shuttle those streams to the X3 using Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) .

But a pairing of the X1 and X3 isn't expected to happen for a while. An industry source says the first multi-room DVR implementation involving the X1 will team the hybrid device with the RNG150, an all-digital HD client box made by vendors such as Motorola Mobility LLC , with trials expected late this year.

The RNG150 (here's some data (PDF)) supports MPEG 2/4 and MoCA, and it sports an embedded Docsis modem. With the addition of new software and firmware, Comcast's RNG boxes can be "flipped" to become IP video-capable. (See Comcast 'RNG' Set-Tops Have IPTV Potential .)

It's not clear when Comcast will introduce the X3, though it's not expected until late 2012 or sometime next year. A person familiar with the project said several chip makers, including Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL), Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), Entropic Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ENTR) (now that it's acquired Trident's set-top chip business) and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), could be in the running to power the new all-IP box. The initial version of the X1 uses an Intel chipset. (See Comcast Confirms Xcalibur Partners and Entropic Takes $55M Stab at Trident.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable



(13)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:37:11 PM
re: Comcast Sizes Up All-IP Set-Top


Comcast declined to comment on the X3, by the way.  But a person with some knowledge of the project says this is potentially an ARM-based device, so it will likely be a less power-hungry set-top and fit into cable's new long-term view on how to reduce power consumption. And ARM,  I'm told, may also give Comcast some help in the development area, since that kind of architecture is being used in cell phones, tablets, and streaming boxes like the Roku.  Any other ARM implications that should be considered here? JB


 


 

Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:37:10 PM
re: Comcast Sizes Up All-IP Set-Top


I was reminded that IP video isn't broadcast so the term simulcast in this sense may not be the best description... and to think about this in terms of switched digital video "without all the muss and fuss."  Make me recall that BigBand (now part of Arris, which happens to do alot of work with Comcast) did envision SDV as being a stepping stone to IP video. But the reminder brings a lot more questions to mind on *how* Comcast might accomplish this. JB

AESerm
50%
50%
AESerm,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:37:09 PM
re: Comcast Sizes Up All-IP Set-Top


The small die size of ARM chips is what gets them in the embedded architectures of those handheld devices. A smaller device should have a lower bill of materials, as well as less power consumption. I wonder if there's a tradeoff in processing power by going to ARM. If the cloud is handling navigation, that's one (big) less thing a set-top has to do.

msilbey
50%
50%
msilbey,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:37:09 PM
re: Comcast Sizes Up All-IP Set-Top


Could users still stream free VoD with AnyPlay? If the issue is just paid on-demand content, Comcast (and users) might be willing to let that reside solely on a parent box in the house short-term. Hmmm...

Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:37:09 PM
re: Comcast Sizes Up All-IP Set-Top


Yeah, that possibility crossed my mind too but I wonder how the lack of transactional VoD on the AnyPlay (for now, anyway) would affect that sort of a set-up.  Also I'd be curious to know if this IP client device would have WiFi in there to support AnyPlay. But that kind of setup would give the mpeg pipe more legs during the IP video transition, which will take a looong time considering how many millions of MPEG-only set-tops are out there. JB  

msilbey
50%
50%
msilbey,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:37:09 PM
re: Comcast Sizes Up All-IP Set-Top


Since Comcast is already using the Motorola Televation streamer thingy (aka AnyPlay), it could avoid doing a large amount of simulcast (or whatever you want to call it), and instead transcode to IP for access on connected devices like iPads in addition to cheaper all-IP set-tops. I wouldn't necessarily have bet on Comcast picking up a transcoding device like the Motorola streamer, but since it has, the introduction of all-IP set-tops makes a lot of sense. They're cheaper, greener, and can be easily networked with other IP devices. 

Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:37:08 PM
re: Comcast Sizes Up All-IP Set-Top


Also, as I have more discussions on this, it appears more and more likely that this box will feed off a gateway, perhaps whatever follows the current version of the X1, so it's still hard to see how soon we can expect to see some sort of an IP video simulcast (guess i'll keep using that term until we can come up with something better).  So the transcoding idea could have more weight versus that other option. JB

msilbey
50%
50%
msilbey,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:37:08 PM
re: Comcast Sizes Up All-IP Set-Top


Well that does limit things somewhat. Interesting then that Comcast is pursuing both in-home transcoding and straight-up IP set-tops. Guess they have to cover all their bases given the increasingly hybrid landscape. 

Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:37:08 PM
re: Comcast Sizes Up All-IP Set-Top


I take that back.  Took a quick look back when they launched AnyPlay in Denver and Nashville, and we reported then there's no VoD supported yet on that streaming unit, transcactional or otherwise. I must've been thinking about something else, but now I can't put my finger on it ;)  JB

Flook
50%
50%
Flook,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:37:07 PM
re: Comcast Sizes Up All-IP Set-Top


Now, wait a minute. OK, I'll admit I don't much about what the MSOs are up to when it comes to IPTV, but did I read somewhere (LR?) that those infernal STBs would soon become so yesterday?

Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Custom TV
Advantech Accelerates 100G Traffic Handling

10|17|14   |   7:56   |   (0) comments


Paul Stevens from Advantech explains why handling 100GbE needs a whole new platform design approach and how Advantech is addressing the needs of equipment providers and carriers to give them the flexibility and performance they will need for SDN and NFV deployment.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Holland's Imtech Traffic & Infra Discusses Huawei's ICT Solution and Services

10|16|14   |   4:49   |   (0) comments


Dimitry Theebe is from the business unit at Imtech Traffic & Infra which delivers communications solutions for transportations. His partnershp with Huawei began about a years ago. In this video, Theebe speaks more about this partnership and what he hopes to accomplish with Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Comprehensive Storage Solutions Vital for SVR

10|16|14   |   6:16   |   (0) comments


SVR Information Technology provides cloud services for academic and special sectors. With Huawei's support, SVR and Yildiz Technical University has established Turkey's largest and most advanced High Performance Computing system. CSO Ismail Cem Aslan talks about what he hopes Huawei's OceanStor storage system will bring for him.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Mexico's Servitron's Impression of Huawei at CCW 2014

10|16|14   |   6:35   |   (0) comments


Servitron is a network operator in Mexico that has been in the trunking industry for the past 20 years. Its COO, Ing. Ragnar Trillo O., explains at Critical Communications World 2014 that his company has been interested in the long-term evolution of LTE technology and its adoption for TETRA.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building a Better Dubai

10|16|14   |   2:06   |   (0) comments


Abdulla Ahmed Al Falasi is the director of commercial affairs, a telecommunications coordinator for the government of Dubai. Their areas of service span across multiple industries, including police, safety, shopping malls and more. In this video, Abdulla talks about his department's work with Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Lights Up Malaysia Partner Maju Nusa

10|16|14   |   1:59   |   (0) comments


Malaysia's Maju Nusa is an enterprise partner to Huawei in networking, route switches and telco equipment. At this year's Critical Communications World in Singapore, CTO Pushpender Singh talks about what Huawei's eLTE solutions mean to his company and for Malaysia.
LRTV Custom TV
Evolving From HFC to FTTH Networks

10|15|14   |   2:19   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Todd McCrum delves into the future of cable's HFC plant, examining how DOCSIS 3.1 and advanced video compression will extend its life and how the IP video transition will usher in GPON and EPON over FTTH.
LRTV Custom TV
Exploring the Future of Cable Access

10|15|14   |   6:23   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Brett Wingo looks at where cable access architectures are heading, discussing the impact of DOCSIS 3.1, CCAP, Remote PHY, SDN, virtualization of cable networks and related technologies.
LRTV Custom TV
Optimizing & Monetizing WiFi

10|15|14   |   5:53   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Vince Pandolfi outlines the reasons for cable WiFi's rapid growth, lays out the issues with the technology and explains the new Cisco tools that can help operators monitor and improve their WiFi delivery.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Emulex & Huawei Collaboration Mutually Beneficial

10|14|14   |   4:17   |   (0) comments


US company Emulex collaborates with Huawei in areas such as blade servers and workload documentation. Mike Heumann of Emulex believes that Huawei has done incredibly well moving from a telecom company into servers and networks, working closely with customers to realize their needs.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Chile's VZION Looks Forward to Seeing More of Huawei

10|14|14   |   4:43   |   (0) comments


VZION is a systems integrator company in Chile with a focus on virtulization technology. In this video, Cesar Alcacibar talks about the challenges in virtualization and how Huawei helps his company to achieve the best results possible. Alcacibar is expecting more adoption and integration of Huawei technologies in Chile.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Pro-Datech & Huawei for a High-Tech Singapore

10|14|14   |   2:59   |   (0) comments


Pro-Datech Systems is a specialty IT solution provider based in Singapore. For an added value to its customers, the company uses Huawei's hardware and trusted performance and features for a total solution. It's looking forward to the creation of a lab, to be based in Singapore, for the two companies' coorporation on total storage solution.
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
WhoIsHostingThis.com presents six of the world's most extreme WiFi hotspots, enabling the most epic selfies you can imagine.
Hot Topics
Forget the Internet, Brace for Skynet
Stephen Saunders, 10/15/2014
HBO Will Go OTT in 2015
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 10/15/2014
Google: Carriers & Cloud Providers Need to Cooperate
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/16/2014
Could Data Be the New 'Currency'?
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/16/2014
CBS Takes OTT Plunge
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 10/16/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed