& cplSiteName &

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        ADD A COMMENT
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   >   >>
From The Founder
Download our complete guide to de-risking NFV deployment in 2016, including:
  • An eight-step strategy to deploying NFV safely, based on input from the companies that have already started virtualizing their production networks.
  • Interviews with leading executives at Colt, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Cisco, Nokia, ZTE, Ericsson and Heavy Reading.
  • Flash Poll
    Live Streaming Video
    Prepping for the Future: Upskill U Explained
    During this short kick-off video, Doug Webster, Vice President of Service Provider Marketing, Cisco, and Light Reading’s CEO & Founder Steve Saunders give an overview of Upskill U.
    LRTV Interviews
    AT&T Expert on the Key Pillars of UC

    4|29|16   |   03:58   |   (0) comments


    Vishy Gopalakrishnan, AVP of product marketing at AT&T, talks about the three developments that are making unified communications and collaboration secure and reliable for enterprise users.
    LRTV Documentaries
    LRTV Report: Mobile Core Innovation

    4|28|16   |   25:32   |   (0) comments


    Hear from multiple industry experts from Deutsche Telekom, SK Telecom, Heavy Reading, Huawei, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, NEC and many more about developments in the mobile core as operators virtualize their IMS and evolved packet core systems and prepare for a 5G world.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    NFV World Congress Highlight

    4|26|16   |     |   (0) comments


    The highlight of the NFV World Congress contains exciting telecom news. Join us for an inside look at Huawei's ICT 2020 plan and its latest collaboration with industry leaders.
    LRTV Interviews
    Unified Comms Finds Its Voice

    4|25|16   |   03:44   |   (0) comments


    Peter Quinlan, VP of UCC Product Management at Tata Communications, talks about the evolution of the unified communications and collaboration services sector and how voice is now a big part of current developments.
    LRTV Documentaries
    So... What Do We Do Now?

    4|25|16   |   03:24   |   (0) comments


    After a long hiatus, Max Dingman, the CEO of a GeeGhiz, returns for a motivational board room pep talk.
    LRTV Documentaries
    NAB 2016 Highlights

    4|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Light Reading's Cable/Video Practice Leader Alan Breznick climbs down from the slots to tell us about the latest news in broadcast technology at NAB 2016 in Las Vegas.
    Between the CEOs
    CEO Chat: Deepfield's Craig Labovitz

    4|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


    In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
    Shades of Ray
    Leading Lights 2016: Shortlists Announced

    4|20|16   |   0:53   |   (0) comments


    The judging is over and the Leading Lights 2016 shortlists have been published -- you can see who made the cut by clicking on this link.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Introducing MulteFire – Qualcomm at MWC 2016

    4|18|16   |   3.29   |   (0) comments


    MulteFire is the latest option for using LTE in unlicensed spectrum. As oppose to its close 'siblings', LAA and LTE-U, MulteFire operates solely in unlicensed spectrum, which enables it to offer the best of two worlds – LTE-like performance with WiFi-like deployment simplicity. In this interview, Sanjeev Athalye, Sr. Director, Product Management at Qualcomm ...
    Between the CEOs
    CEO Chat: Grant Van Rooyen of Cologix

    4|18|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    ONS 2016 – Demonstration of Huawei's NetMatrix Multi-Vendor SDN Orchestrator

    4|15|16   |     |   (0) comments


    This demonstration shows how Huawei's NetMatrix SDN Orchestrator (SDN-O) addresses an operator's core service agility needs for services spanning multi-domain, multivendor networks: it includes a demonstration of:
    - Rapid New Service Design: using YANG to model a complex example of multi-domain, multivendor L3VPN network connectivity service that ...
    LRTV Custom TV
    AT&T Wants to Own North Carolina

    4|15|16   |     |   (1) comment


    Venessa Harrison, president of North Carolina for AT&T, tells how the company will expand its GigaPower service beyond the seven N.C. cities it already serves.

  • This blog, sponsored by AT&T, is the second part of a ten-part series examining next-generation broadband technologies titled "Behind the Speeds."
  • Upcoming Live Events
    May 23, 2016, Austin, TX
    May 23, 2016, Austin Convention Center
    May 24-25, 2016, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
    December 6-8, 2016,
    June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    All Upcoming Live Events
    Infographics
    A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
    Hot Topics
    Ultra-Broadband Summit, Hong Kong
    Iain Morris, News Editor, 4/27/2016
    WiCipedia: Woman Cards & Bitch Switches
    Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 4/29/2016
    FCC Poised to Re-Regulate Wholesale Access
    Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 4/28/2016
    Mitel Asks: What Time of Day Do You Shower?
    Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/25/2016
    GoT Fans Curse HBO (Not Right) Now
    Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/25/2016
    Like Us on Facebook
    Twitter Feed
    BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
    In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
    Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
    Animals with Phones
    Live Digital Audio

    Of all the tech companies in the Valley, Intel has made the most aggressive commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. It's doing so by taking concrete, measurable steps, making a large financial investment and through a commitment to complete transparency about its progress. In this radio show, WiC Director Sarah Thomas will be joined by Shlomit Weiss, Intel's Vice President, Data Center Group, and General Manager of Networking Engineering, who will share with us why Intel is tackling this huge challenge, how and to what effect. She will also discuss her unique experiences leading development of Client SOC development in the past and today leading development of all of the chipmaker's silicon hardware for networking IPs and discrete devices and managing a team of 600 engineers across Israel, Europe and the US.