& 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
The independent evaluation of Nokia's key virtual network functions (VNFs) was a defining moment for the Finnish giant.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP’s Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it’s going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Innovations in Cable

5|26|16   |   03:18   |   (0) comments


Marc Aldrich from Cisco discusses the latest in security, the evolution and momentum for CCAP and what the industry will be seeing next from Cisco.
LRTV Documentaries
Leading Lights 2016 Highlights

5|25|16   |   02:26   |   (1) comment


Some of the high points from this year's Leading Lights awards dinner at the Hotel Ella in Austin, Texas.
LRTV Documentaries
Light Reading Hall of Fame 2016

5|23|16   |   05:43   |   (0) comments


Find out who has been welcomed into Light Reading's Hall of Fame this year.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE TM Forum Highlights

5|23|16   |     |   (0) comments


ZTE showcased its new ICT solutions at TM Forum in Nice.
LRTV Interviews
Gamma's MD on the Emergence of UC2

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


Gamma Communications Managing Director David Macfarlane believes the unified communications (UC) market has reached a tipping point.
LRTV Custom TV
The Ultimate 5-Minute Guide to Digital Customer Engagement

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this short video, you will hear all about how Digital Customer Engagement is the key to meeting customer expectations, keeping them happy, and maximizing revenue. VP Product & Marketing at Pontis, Ofer Razon, breaks down for us the five essential capabilities for successful Digital Customer Engagement. Don’t miss!
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 1 – NFV Use Cases Get Real

5|19|16   |   05:57   |   (0) comments


Consensus is building around the key use cases for NFV, including managed IP services at the network edge and on customer premises, which can generate new revenues from enterprises/SMBs and consumers; Evolved Packet Core to support LTE migration; and adjacent technologies, such as TAS and IMS, to support VoLTE and next-generation charging and policy control ...
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 3

5|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang discusses the challenges of operational transformation and how Nokia helps its customers. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Level 3: Why UC Is In Demand

5|17|16   |   04:12   |   (1) comment


Andrew Edison, Level 3's senior VP of sales, EMEA region, talks about the drivers of growth in the unified communications services market.
LRTV Custom TV
ARM's OPNFV Action

5|17|16   |     |   (0) comments


At the ARM booth at MWC 2016, Joe Kidder and Bob Monkman speak to Light Reading about OPNFV and their upcoming action.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 2

5|16|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang gives advice to service providers on how to move to NFV. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Interoute CTO on NFV's Maturity

5|13|16   |   06:46   |   (1) comment


Matt Finnie, CTO at international operator Interoute, explains how NFV has made life easier in terms of logistics and how Interoute can now enable a 'software-defined moment' for its customers.
Upcoming Live Events
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
DT: Telcos Must Escape Vendor Prison
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/24/2016
AT&T to Start 5G 'Friendly' Trial by 2016 End
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/24/2016
Cisco's Patel Hails 'Microculture' Successes
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/26/2016
Cable Is Eyeing Its Retail Options
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/25/2016
AT&T's Margaret Chiosi Retires
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 5/25/2016
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

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.