Light Reading

Who's on Board With Comcast's Set-Top Kit?

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

More than 50 companies, including almost a dozen set-top vendors, five service providers and five chip makers, have secured licenses for Comcast Corp.'s Reference Design Kit (RDK), an integrated set of software for hybrid QAM/IP and IP-only set-tops and gateways, according to industry sources.

Obtaining a license isn't a guarantee it will generate any business with the nation's cable operator or other service providers that end up adopting the RDK, but it's an important first step. Additionally, sources say Comcast makes its vendors adhere to an additional set of requirements ... so there's that.

Comcast says the RDK will help it cut product development cycles to a year or less. It should also allow operators to pick from a broad set of vendors and reduce their reliance on a U.S. set-top market that's historically been dominated by Motorola Mobility LLC and Cisco Systems Inc. (See Comcast's Set-Top Accelerator Gains Traction.)

In Comcast's case, that's already starting to happen as it deploys Xfinity X1, a next-gen video service that utilizes the RDK. Pace plc is making the first iteration of the XG1, a multi-tuner HD-DVR. But the operator has already approved Pace, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Motorola and Cisco for the RNG150N, a companion box that brings whole-home capabilities to the XG1 and also utilizes the RDK. Arris Group Inc. is among the vendors making the new XG5, a "headless" gateway that will work with IP-only HD client boxes from a group of suppliers that initially includes Pace, Humax Co. Ltd. and Technicolor SA. (See Comcast All-Service Gateways Go 'Headless', Comcast's X1 Flies Into Philly, Comcast's X1 Gets a Multi-Room Partner and Comcast's IP-Only Set-Top Unveiled.)

CPE vendor choices could expand to several more, based on the current licensees, which include Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Ubee Interactive and iNovo Broadband Inc., a startup made up of several former Cisco and Scientific-Atlanta execs. (See Ex-Cisco Execs Form Cable Set-Top Startup.)

The RDK is also gaining support of multiple silicon vendors, with Intel Corp., Broadcom Corp., MStar Semiconductor Inc., STMicroelectronics NV and Entropic Communications Inc. already in the licensing and/or product development mix.

Although Comcast is the world's largest cable operator , it will likely need participation from other MSOs to achieve massive economies of scale for products based on the RDK. Time Warner Cable Inc. is expected to use the RDK for some products, but it's not clear if some of the other service providers with licenses (Rogers Communications Inc., BSkyB Ltd., NET Brazil and Liberty Global Inc. among them) will follow suit.

Comcast said it could only confirm companies that had issued press releases about their respective RDK license agreements. Here's an expanded RDK licensee list, based on those public announcements as well as from data supplied to Light Reading Cable independently (companies that have previously disclosed themselves as RDK licensees are listed below with an asterisk).

Company Product Focus
Access Systems Americas Software and applications.
Alticast Corp.* Middleware and applications.
Arris Group Inc.* Set-tops, gateways, applications and user interfaces.
AwoX Networks DLNA middleware for consumer electronics products.
Beechwood Software Audio/video application and services integration for embedded devices, including set-tops.
Bitrouter Integration services for TVs, set-tops, connected devices and user interfaces.
Bluestreak Technology Inc. Software for connected TVs, set-tops, smartphones and tablets.
Broadcom Corp.* Set-top/CPE silicon.
BSkyB U.K.-based pay-TV service provider.
CableLabs U.S. MSO-backed R&D house and developer of cable specifications.
Cisco Systems Inc.* (and NDS) Set-tops, gateways, middleware, user interfaces, system integration services.
Corpus Media Labs Cross-platform applications.
Entropic Communications Inc.* Set-top/CPE silicon.
Espial Group* IPTV set-top middleware and TV browser software.
Evolution Digital LLC* Set-tops/CPE.
HCL America Inc. Middleware and application development, product testing.
Humax Co. Ltd.* Set-tops/CPE
Infosys Limited Business consulting, technology, engineering and outsourcing services.
Inovo Broadband Inc. Set-tops/CPE.
Intel Corp.* Set-top silicon.
Itaas Inc.* Product testing and integration.
JetHead Development Inc. Embedded software for consumer electronics systems.
LG Electronics Smart TVs and apps.
Liberty Global* Cable operator serving parts of Europe, Chile and Puerto Rico.
Linaro Open source software for ARM system-on-chips (SoCs).
Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Engineering, construction and financial services.
Motorola Mobility* Set-tops/CPE, middleware, apps, user interfaces
Mstar Semiconductor Semiconductors for displays and digital home platforms.
Myriad Group Maker of Java Virtual Machines.
Net Brazil Brazil-based service provider.
Opera Software ASA Web browsers for desktops and other connected CE devices.
Pace plc* Set-tops, gateways, CPE.
Red Embedded Consulting Technical consulting services.
Rogers Communications Canada-based pay-TV and mobile services operator.
S3 Group* Product testing and integration.
Sagemcom Set-tops/CPE.
Samsung Electronics Set-tops/CPE.
SeaChange International (VividLogic) Video middleware, UIs and integration services.
Solekai Systems* Product testing and integration.
ST Microelectronics CPE silicon.
Tech Mahindra IT outsourcing and Web development.
Tata Elxsi* Product testing and integration
Technicolor SA* Set-tops/CPE, user interfaces and apps.
TeleIDEA BV Software engineering.
thePlatform Comcast-owned Internet video publisher.
ThinkAnalytics Video search and recommendation software for set-tops and connected devices.
Time Warner Cable* Second-largest U.S. cable operator.
Ubee Interactive Gateways/CPE.
UXP Systems Multi-platform apps and services.
Verimatrix Inc. Multi-platform video security and encryption.
Video Experts Group Software development and project outsourcing.
Videon Central* Testing and development of CE software.
Visible World Advanced advertising software and systems.
WiPro Ltd. Consulting and outsourcing.
WyPlay Set-top box software development.
Zenverge Inc. Video transcoding silicon.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/18/2013 | 1:33:00 AM
re: Who's on Board With Comcast's Set-Top Kit?
Hey Steve. Thanks for posting and passing word along. I'll be in touch very soon and look forward to learning more about you and the company. JB
Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/18/2013 | 1:31:16 AM
re: Who's on Board With Comcast's Set-Top Kit?
User Rank: Blogger
1/18/2013 | 1:15:34 AM
re: Who's on Board With Comcast's Set-Top Kit?
It's amazing that RDK has attracted such widespread participation in a relatively short timeframe. There are more than a dozen companies on the list that we've never heard of before. Like Jeff, we on the Heavy Reading research side of the house would like to hear more about your RDK plans. So feel free to drop me a line at:

Craig Leddy
Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á
Craig Matsumoto
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/17/2013 | 7:01:47 PM
re: Who's on Board With Comcast's Set-Top Kit?
Thanks for chiming in, Steve.

You share a first and last name with one of the Light Reading founders, so seeing your message on our front page was a bit freaky at first.-á :) -á (Now, if you also look like Hugh Laurie and speak with a British accent, that'll be *really* strange...)
User Rank: Light Beer
1/17/2013 | 5:54:30 PM
re: Who's on Board With Comcast's Set-Top Kit?
Hi Jeff,

Steve Saunders here, founder of Sentosa Technology Consultants.-á We are based in Colorado, about 20 folks or so, we have been around for 5 years, providing software development services to the cable industry.-á We were significant contributors to the OCAP RI, and one of the first RDK licensees.

If you would like to talk in person for more info, please feel free to contact me:

-á-á-á-á-á-á Steven Saunders
-á-á-á-á-á-á 303-809-8043
Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/17/2013 | 4:27:11 PM
re: Who's on Board With Comcast's Set-Top Kit?
Well, the list indicates who wants in on the RDK action... time will tell who actually gets some. And we suspect there are many more... like perhaps 70+ by now.

Also have a list of a handful of others that I was researching but left off the list as I haven't pinpointed them or their role yet:
- Channel Islands (the service provider?)
- Sentosa (a service company that i hear is based in Colo).-á
- Trick Play-á(not familar with them yet)
- Triple Play-á(ditto as above)
- Zodiak or is it Zodiac, the video software/iTV company that's worked with TWC, Cablevision and others?

Making more calls on those, but fee free to drop me a line if you have a sense on who these other folks are and where they're located. JB
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