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Cable/Video

Humax expands RDK device lineup, encroaches on CommScope's and Technicolor's turf

Humax has introduced a lineup of consumer premises equipment (CPE) based on the Reference Design Kit (RDK) that takes advantage of an open source software platform that has caught on with Comcast and other major cable operators.

While the bulk of Humax's new lineup focuses on the usual suspects, such as set-top boxes and broadband gateways, it also adds a smart speaker system to the mix that's outfitted with an integrated microphone for far-field voice recognition.

Here's a snapshot of Humax's new RDK device lineup:

  • The Humax's RDK Video Accelerator, an IP set-top box pre-integrated with the RDK application framework and Metrological's app store (Comcast acquired Metrological last year). Humax's new device is equipped to support both 4K/Ultra High Definition and High Dynamic Range video formats and WiFi 6.
  • The 4K Soundbox, a connected soundbar with an integrated microphone for far-field voice recognition that can connect to and work with compatible set-top boxes and other devices.
  • A DOCSIS 3.1 wireless voice gateway supporting up to 5 Gbit/s downstream and 2 Gbit/s upstream.
  • A 2.5G GPON wireless voice gateway.

Click the image below for a slideshow of Humax's new RDK device lineup:

Humax's 4K-capable IP set-top with RDK.
Humax's 4K-capable IP set-top with RDK.

Humax expects its full lineup of new RDK devices to become available in Q2 2020, and plans to show them off at the RDK Americas Summit on March 10 in Philadelphia.

Why this matters
The lineup is a clear indicator that Humax is preparing to aggressively attack a cable service provider CPE market that has largely been the domain of CommScope/Arris and Technicolor.

Humax's move also fits into a broader trend in which original design manufacturers (ODMs) are looking to engage more directly with cable operators and other service providers; those service providers have typically have worked more closely with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like CommScope and Technicolor. OEMs have historically developed products in partnership with various ODMs based on guidance and direction from the service providers. If this strategy to work directly with service providers bears fruit, ODMs such as Humax, Hitron, Sagemcom and Sercomm, among others, could put the squeeze on the OEMs as set-tops, modems and other types of CPE become increasingly commoditized.

The ability for ODMs to work more directly with service providers is starting to open up as cable operators continue to seize more control of their gateway and set-top box costs and service feature roadmaps by extracting the major software components from the core hardware.

Representing the software in this scenario is the Reference Design Kit, an open set of software for both video set-tops and broadband gateways that is managed by RDK Management LLC, a joint venture of Comcast, Charter Communications and Liberty Global.

RDK Development said last year that its open source software had been deployed on more than 50 million devices as it continued to expand beyond DOCSIS and into equipment used on DSL and PON networks.

Examples of service providers that have adopted RDK include Comcast, Cox Communications, Liberty Global, Portugal's NOS and NOWO; J:COM (Japan), Melita (Malta), Germany's Vodafone and Tele Columbus, and Canada's Rogers, Shaw Communications and Videotron.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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