Comcast Plans RDK-for-Broadband Gateway Trials in Q4

DENVER -- The broadband version of the Reference Design Kit (RDK) took a major leap forward today with the announcement that Arris and Comcast have collaborated on a new open source software stack for broadband modems and gateways.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) will run field trials with the software stack integrated into Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) Touchstone TG1682 DOCSIS 3.0 gateways beginning in the fourth quarter of this year. General availability is expected in the first quarter of 2015.

Details on the broadband RDK initiative -- also referred to in the past as RDK-B -- only began to surface this past April when the management organization RDK Management LLC first said publicly that "RDK community members are examining other customer premise devices, such as modems/routers, that could benefit from RDK." At the end of that same month, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) then announced that it was contributing open source routing software to the effort. And Comcast CTO Tony Werner finally confirmed his company's commitment to RDK-B at a panel session during The Cable Show. (See Comcast Commits to RDK-B.)

For all the news out of the SCTE show this week, check out our cable content page here on Light Reading.

A spokesperson for RDK Management provided some clarification on how Arris's contribution to the broadband RDK initiative today fits in with what Cisco announced in the spring. While saying that the organization couldn't speak on behalf of either vendor, he noted that "both companies have made contributions that are expected to benefit a new version of the RDK for broadband devices that is currently under development."

An Arris representative highlighted that company's direct collaboration with Comcast on the broadband RDK project. In an email, the Arris spokesperson emphasized, "We are working with Comcast to finalize the RDK for broadband devices and include it in a DOCSIS 3.0 gateway (TG1682) that will be the first to be field trialed and deployed in the Comcast network."

The original RDK platform for video, meanwhile, continues to spread like wildfire. Designed to create a standard foundation for video product development, RDK has now been embraced by more than 125 companies globally including operators, hardware manufacturers, software developers, chip makers and systems integrators. The goal of the platform is to help speed up new feature and service deployments, while also providing significant flexibility for customization of the user experience.

In a keynote discussion at Cable-Tec Expo, Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) President and CEO Mike Fries expressed his admiration for RDK by comparing it to the development of the DOCSIS standard, which continues to be a successful broadband framework for the cable community. "RDK, in my opinion, is a DOCSIS moment," said Fries.

That statement may end up being even more literal than Fries intended it as RDK crosses over from the video domain to broadband data services.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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