Cable Tech

Cable Show 2013: Hot Tech Topics

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Cable Show -- Despite the lack of an obvious political agenda right now, the cable industry is staging its annual trade show extravaganza in the U.S. capital for the second time in just five years. The usual gaggle of federal and state regulators and legislators will attend and participate in the show, which opens Monday morning and runs through Wednesday afternoon. Acting Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Mignon Clyburn and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will head the list of policy heavyweights who will take to the keynote podium. But with no pressing public policy issues for the cable industry to pursue, politics seems destined to be no more than a sideshow at best this year. Instead, as the 12,000 or so cable guys and gals expected to descend on steamy D.C. this week, the convention will likely focus more than usual on hard-core tech topics. With "IP-all-the-time" all the rage, here are five of the major topics Light Reading Cable will be following closely during the course of the show. Home Media Gateways
As the industry grapples with how to serve all the IP-connected devices that consumers are accumulating at record pace, numerous vendors will either be demonstrating hybrid QAM/IP video gateways for the home or the software, silicon chips or other elements that run them. In particular, Arris Group Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Pace plc, TiVo Inc. and other set-top makers will be showing off their latest gateway or gateway-like gear. At the same time, Broadcom Corp. will be touting its new gateway chip and Intel Corp. will be promoting the evolution of its Puma video gateway platform. Comcast's X1
Comcast Corp., the first major U.S. MSO to start rolling out a new IP video platform nationwide, will likely be talking up its next-gen X1 service every chance it gets. With X1 now launched in at least 10 markets, and the operator pledging to introduce the service in half of its markets by the end of June and its entire footprint by year's end, Comcast is already starting to beef up the service with enhancements such as multi-room DVR (digital video recorder). And, in Tuesday's general Cable Show session, Comcast Chairman & CEO Brian Roberts plans to demonstrate a new version of the company's cloud-based service, dubbed X2. (See Comcast X1 Finds Its Voice.) Comcast's RDK
If it seems like Comcast's show this year, that's because it is, and not just because the MSO is Washington's cable provider. With the MSO's Reference Design Kit (RDK), a pre-integrated software bundle for IP set-tops, gateways and other IP-enabled video devices, rapidly becoming the industry's de facto standard, some 20 "licensee members of the RDK community" will be showing off their wares for the software stack and participating in a guided tour of the show floor's RDK exhibits. To cite several examples: Silicon & Software Systems Ltd. (S3) will be demonstrating automated testing on the OEM's RDK-based set-top box; Alticast Corp. will be showcasing its IP set-tops based on the RDK platform; and Myrians will be highlighting its software running on mobile devices and an RDK-based set-top. (See Hillcrest Snags Comcast RDK License.) HTML5
Although the Web-based technology may not turn out to be the answer to every video service provider's prayers, HTML5 is still an up-and-comer in cable land because of its ease of use, abundant features and expected lower costs. As a result, numerous vendors on the convention floor will be showing off HTML5 products this week. The list includes Synacor Inc.'s Carbyn Cross-Device platform, Zodiac's PowerUp framework and Nagra's new OpenTV 5 platform with UI/HTML5 capabilities. CCAP
The drumbeat for Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) equipment goes on and on. Casa Systems Inc. will be demonstrating its new C100G device, the first integrated headend chassis to meet the specs for the cable industry's next-gen access architecture. But Casa will have plenty of company on the CCAP front, as Arris, Cisco, CommScope Inc. and Harmonic Inc. play up the CCAP-like capabilities of their existing cable modem termination systems (CMTSs) and edge QAM modulators and discuss their evolution strategies to CCAP nirvana. (See Casa Unveils First Integrated CCAP.) — Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading
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