& cplSiteName &

Meet Comcast's IP-Only Set-Top

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
10/3/2012
50%
50%

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has picked Pace plc as one of the suppliers for a new IP-only high-definition video client box in development called the XI3, Light Reading Cable has learned.

Because it's IP-only, the XI3 won't contain a QAM tuner. It's anticipated that the XI3 will use Comcast's new cloud-based user interface and obtain linear video from a primary gateway that can transcode QAM video into IP streams that can be shuttled to the client box via the home network.

Light Reading Cable first reported in April that Comcast was developing an IP client box called the X3. (See Comcast Sizes Up All-IP Set-Top .)

According to a source familiar with the product, the Pace XI3 is based on the Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) BCM 7428 chipset, supports MoCA 2.0, and features HDMI, Ethernet and USB ports, and an option for a 802.11n Wi-Fi module. Comcast declined to comment on the project.

Here's a sneak peek at a design for the XI3.



And what's with that SD Card slot? The XI3 doesn't have an internal hard drive, so the slot could be used for memory expansion. But it's also plausible that Comcast could use an SD Card as a local, mini-DVR that could buffer a small amount of live TV programming for trick-play functions (pause, fast-forward, rewind, etc.). Advanced Digital Broadcast (ADB) toyed with the notion of using an SD Card as a "lite" DVR for a tru2way "set-back" box it showed off in 2010. (See Tru2way 'Phantom' Box Is a DVR Lightweight .)

The XI3 is also an obvious candidate for a network DVR that Comcast is testing in the Boston area. (See Comcast Tests Network DVR in Boston .)

It's not known when Comcast plans to deploy the XI3, but it's not expected to show up until 2013 at the earliest.

The XI3 appears to be a product based on the Comcast Reference Design Kit (RDK), a bundle of software for hybrid QAM/IP gateways and IP-only clients. Comcast hopes the RDK will help cut product development cycles to a year or less. The X1, a hybrid gateway also made by Pace, is the first product to come out of the RDK project. Following launches in Boston and Atlanta, Comcast expects to deploy the X1 in at least three more major markets this year. (See Comcast's Set-Top Accelerator Gains Traction and Comcast's Cloud TV Service Rolls Into Atlanta.)

Comcast is expected to select multiple suppliers for its X-series boxes. Among chip and set-top vendors, other RDK licensees include Evolution Digital LLC , Motorola Mobility, Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) and Entropic Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ENTR). Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH) are also rumored to be among the RDK licensees. (See Moto Licenses Comcast's RDK and Comcast's IP Set-Top Club Expands.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(11)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
craigleddy
50%
50%
craigleddy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:19:54 PM
re: Meet Comcast's IP-Only Set-Top


Just to be clear, this IP box isn't intended to provide a modem connection for HSD to a PC, correct? So it's not a hybrid gateway like the ARRIS Moxi box or similar products that provide QAM video for TV and Docsis 3.0 HSD for PC.


If that's the case, I wonder why Comcast is going through the pain of rolling out an IP STB at the same time that they have to roll out D3 modems. Wouldn't it be better to do it all in one box, if possible? Maybe they think they can fulfill IP needs through the home network? Or maybe it's just too expensive?   


 

Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:53 PM
re: Meet Comcast's IP-Only Set-Top


No, the way I understand it, this would be a client box that feeds off a headed or headless gateway via the home network via MoCA or possibly Wi-Fi. As for whether it could  link directly to PCs... perhaps that's a potential use case, but not one that has been brought up to me.


 I think you will see this all-in-one sort of gateway device (with Docsis 3.0 built in) emerge that will feed not only IP clients like this one but tablets, smartphones and connected TVs.  It's not the death of the set-top (they'll never go away, IMHO), but i think we will see the rise of the gateway.  Those gateways woudl essentially serve as the demarcation point to support all these devices on the home network.  This IP client box represents  just one piece of the puzzle, i think.  JB


 


 


 

opticalwatcher
50%
50%
opticalwatcher,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:53 PM
re: Meet Comcast's IP-Only Set-Top


So, this is kind of like a Roku box, with menus more like a regular set-top and licensed to receive Comcast channels?

craigleddy
50%
50%
craigleddy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:19:52 PM
re: Meet Comcast's IP-Only Set-Top


To Jeff: Yep, it's a good starting point for IP video, plus you toss in the RDK and other bells & whistles and it's one nifty box. They can run their cloud IPG and interactive apps and do home networking. 


So I guess their thinking is to get this out there without mucking it up by trying to serve HSD needs too. D3 HSD can take care of itself for now.


Guess those Comcast guys aren't as dumb as some say they look. JK! :) 


Thanks for the pic too.     

Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:52 PM
re: Meet Comcast's IP-Only Set-Top


I think this will help to extend  the UI/guide and services and apps that  Comcast is offering now on the X1 platform to secondary TVs in the home using a relatively inexpensive client device (the XI3).  But the XI3 need to work off in tandem with a gateway or a new version of the X1 that can also do transcoding, or at least that's how I understand it.   


Early on Comcast will try to extend the X1 UI to millions of already deployed RNG 150 boxes that have QAM tuners but also have an IP interface so it can access the new cloud-based guide.    But I believe that these new XI3 clients should be less expensive than those RNG models, so this is a more forward-looking view of what Comcast has in mind from a gateway/client archtiecture.  JB


 

Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:51 PM
re: Meet Comcast's IP-Only Set-Top


And  HDMI, to connect to the TV. I think alot of the content will be piped into the client device via MoCA. If you look at cable STBs today, lots of them already have USB and  Ethernet ports, but are they being used for anything? USB could connect to a separate storage device maybe like a sidecar DVR? and there's a Wi-Fi option... perhaps 11n and later 11ac will let the cable guys spray video from the gateway to the client device wirelessly if it's being set up in a room that doesn't have a coax outlet and can't use the MoCA option?  JB


 


 


 

Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:51 PM
re: Meet Comcast's IP-Only Set-Top


Here's the backside of the box: 


<img alt="" src="http://img.lightreading.com/2012/10/225538/9315.jpg">

Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:51 PM
re: Meet Comcast's IP-Only Set-Top


I have a shot of the back as well. I'll try to add that in. As costs go , there's no CableCARD in these IP boxes, so that's a significant savings right there because it means the CableCARD will only be in the gateway on not required on every device that's hanging off of it, including the XI3. And i think you are right in that Comcast's not going to go out and do a bunch of switch outs of the old boxes, but suspect they'll probably &nbsp;roll them out in tandem with the new gateways when they are ready. JB


&nbsp;

gconnery
50%
50%
gconnery,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:19:51 PM
re: Meet Comcast's IP-Only Set-Top


Well, the back would be more interesting. Meaning, does it have an Ethernet jack, or a coax jack (for MoCA presumably) or both?&nbsp; Etc.


I'm not clear how this is cheaper/better than the existing QAM boxes honestly, given the need to install an in-home gateway box.&nbsp; There are obvious advantages to having that in-home gateway box--allowing STB-less TVs, support for tablets, maybe VOD on TiVos etc.&nbsp; So there are advantages to this in the long run potentially (if there are standards beyond just Comcast at least) but I do wonder if it will actually be cheaper.


And of course as usual Comcast isn't going to take back all their QAM boxes and replace them with these, rather they'll just roll out at a glacially slow pace perhaps driven by a new service offering.

craigleddy
50%
50%
craigleddy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:19:51 PM
re: Meet Comcast's IP-Only Set-Top


Based on your story and what I can make out in this pic, it looks like there are ports for coax, Ethernet and USB. I assume the IP video runs through good ol' coax. So then what's the Ethernet port for?


I suppose it's a data backchannel for service authorization and provisioning, refreshing the IPG, maybe VOD order fulfillment, and other data needs, as opposed to a connection for other devices. Unless those chores can be handled directly through the IP stream via coax?


It may just be the back of a box, but for cable this IP video stuff really is a whole new world.&nbsp;


&nbsp;

Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, August 3, 1:00PM EDT
The Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center
Guru Parulkar, Executive Director, Open Networking Research Center, Open Networking Lab
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Wednesday, August 10, 1:00PM EDT
Telcos & Open Source 101
Phil Robb, Senior Technical Director, OpenDaylight
Friday, August 12, 1:00PM EDT
The Role of Open Source in NFV
Jim Fagan, Director, Cloud Practice, Telstra
Wednesday, August 17, 1:00PM EDT
Using Open Source for Data Centers and Cloud Services
Roz Roseboro, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
in association with:
From The Founder
In the first episode of a four-part series, Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders and Calix President and CEO Carl Russo drive around town discussing the disruptive mega-changes in the communications industry and where hope lies for service providers to meet the escalating demands of the cloud.
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.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu Sales Leader Shares Lessons Learned

7|27|16   |   5:12   |   (0) comments


As Fujitsu's only female sales leader, Annie Bogue knows the importance of asking for what you want, being flexible (she's been relocated five times), keeping a meticulous calendar, 'leaning in,' working harder than everyone else around you, being aware and more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
VeEX Test & Measurement Solutions

7|25|16   |   08:57   |   (0) comments


Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX Inc., talks test and measurement with Light Reading's Steve Saunders at BCE 2016. This includes innovative products such as VeSion Cloud-Based platform for network monitoring; MTTplus Modular Test platform for Access, Business, Carrier Ethernet, Transport and Core services; and OPX-BOX+ for Fiber Optics.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live From BCE 2016

7|25|16   |   03:20   |   (0) comments


VeEX's Senior Director of Business Development, Perry Romano, explains how VeEX provides tools to help install, maintain, monitor and manage network infrastructure efficiently and effectively. The portfolio of products on display include the RXT-6000, MTTplus and TX300s.
LRTV Custom TV
Real-Time Telemetry & Analytics for Intelligent SDN Orchestration

7|25|16   |   03:09   |   (0) comments


Packet Design CEO Scott Sherwood discusses how real-time network telemetry and analytics are enabling a new breed of SDN orchestration applications.
From the Founder
The Russo Report: Driving Disruption

7|25|16   |   07:44   |   (0) comments


In the first episode of a four-part series, Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders and Calix President and CEO Carl Russo drive around town discussing the disruptive mega-changes in the communications industry and where hope lies for service providers to meet the escalating demands of the cloud.
LRTV Custom TV
NetScout: Maximizing Enterprise Cloud for Digital Transformation

7|20|16   |   04:53   |   (0) comments


Light Reading Editor Mitch Wagner talks to NetScout CMO Jim McNiel about maximizing the benefits of enterprise cloud and digital transformation while minimizing potential pitfalls with a proper monitoring and instrumentation strategy.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Ciena's VP Offers a Career Crash Course

7|20|16   |   4:14   |   (2) comments


How did Ciena's Vice President of Sales, Angela Finn, carve out her career path? Simple, she tells WiC. She stayed true to her company, customers and principles. She shares her advice for women on how to be authentic and credible, as well as for companies that want to make a real change to their culture and practices.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 2 – Climbing the Virtualization Maturity Curve

7|19|16   |   06:56   |   (0) comments


Many of the initial use case implementations are single-vendor and self-contained. The industry is still climbing the virtualization maturity curve, needing further clarity and stability in the NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and greater availability and choice of virtualized network functions (VNFs). Interoperability between NFVis and VNFs from different vendors ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Versa Networks' Kumar Mehta on SD-WAN Managed Services

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


In Silicon Valley, Steve Saunders sits down with Versa's Kumar Mehta for an interview focused on why service providers are building SD-WAN managed services, and how Versa's telco customers are innovating.
LRTV Custom TV
Juniper Networks & The Evolution of NFV

7|19|16   |   06:01   |   (0) comments


Senior Juniper Networks executives talk to Light Reading Founder & CEO Steve Saunders about NFV developments and the recent independent evaluation by test lab EANTC of Juniper's Cloud CPE solution.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink Goes Beyond Managed WiFi

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


CenturyLink's managed WiFi allows enterprises, such as retailers and resorts, to track guest WiFi usage in order to help them better communicate with customers.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T Launches Network Functions on Demand

7|17|16   |   05:26   |   (0) comments


Roman Pacewicz, Senior Vice President, Offer Management & Service Integration, AT&T Business Solutions, discusses the operator's launch of its Network Functions on Demand service.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
September 27, 2016, Philadelphia, PA
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 6-8, 2016,
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Five of the Top 10 most targeted countries in Check Point Software Technologies' global Malware & Threat Index for Q1 2016 are in Africa.
Hot Topics
Verizon Sports Big Plans for Yahoo
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 7/26/2016
Kevin Lo's Move to Facebook: Sign of Things to Come?
Patrick Donegan, Chief Analyst, Heavy Reading, 7/20/2016
Verizon's Next With VNFs
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/21/2016
Yahoo Signing Off in $4.83B Sale to Verizon
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 7/25/2016
Facebook Gets Its Drone On
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/22/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
I've enjoyed interviewing many interesting people since I rejoined Light Reading, but William A. "Bill" Owens certainly takes the biscuit, as we say where I come from.
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.