In another sign of its grand cable ambitions, Samsung Electronics has become the latest major equipment vendor to sign up for the cable industry's Reference Design Kit (RDK) program.
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) announced Wednesday that it has signed a license with RDK Management LLC for the RDK, a pre-integrated software bundle for IP video set-tops and gateways that's designed to become the industry standard. Thus Samsung has joined a growing list of cable hardware and software suppliers that have licensed the software bundle, including such set-top box manufacturers as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), and Pace Micro Technology .
Samsung executives said the company signed up for the RDK program to speed up the development cycle for cable IP set-top boxes and home media gateways. In addition, they're seeking to deliver a richer, multiscreen entertainment experience to viewers.
"As a leading provider of Pay TV CPE worldwide, Samsung recognizes the value of a common platform," Stephen Goldstein, vice president and general manager of set-top boxes in Samsung's enterprise business unit, said in a press release. "The RDK allows Samsung to deliver devices to operators faster and with broader scale." Samsung has already started shipping RDK-based set-tops to cable operators, and "we look forward to more RDK-based projects in the United States and abroad."
A Samsung spokesman told Multichannel News that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is the first MSO to deploy the vendor's RDK boxes. Comcast, which started its RDK deployments with hybrid IP/video gateways from Pace, is using the boxes to support the rollout of its next-gen X1 IP video platform, which features a cloud-based user interface and interactive programming guide. The MSO, which has already deployed about 1 million X1-enabled set-tops, also plans to use RDK boxes to support its upcoming rollout of X2, an upgraded, more personalized version of the X1 platform. (See Arris RDK Boxes Coming Soon and All the Way With RDK?)
Samsung also counts Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY), Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Bright House Networks , Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED), and com hem AB as major MSO customers. TWC (a joint venture partner with Comcast in RDK Management) and Liberty Global have already signed up for the RDK program. Virgin Media is now a part of Liberty Global, and Bright House typically follows TWC's technology lead.
By signing an RDK license agreement, Samsung appears to be positioning itself well for more cable set-top and gateway activity with current and new MSO customers. Perhaps the only question is what took Samsung this long.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading