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Set-top boxes

New Set-Tops for Comcast, Charter

For all the talk of its demise, it appears the set-top business is still going strong. Two new set-top deals surfaced this week: one involving Cisco boxes for Comcast and the other centering on Humax as a supplier for Charter's new Worldbox initiative.

The Comcast news comes via the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (and Janko Roettgers at GigaOM). A recent FCC filing revealed that Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has developed an IP box that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is planning to deploy under its Xfinity brand. Dubbed the Xi4v1-C, the new set-top is similar to renderings that showed up on a DSLReports forum late last year, and it looks to be a successor to X1 boxes currently made by Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) and Pace Micro Technology . Multiple reports have speculated that the Cisco set-top won't include an on-board hard drive, but will instead rely on Comcast's cloud-based DVR service for content storage.


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Meanwhile, Multichannel News reported that Charter Communications Inc. has selected Humax as a second supplier for the Worldbox set-tops that it plans to deploy later this year. Charter first announced Cisco as a partner for its new box line-up back at CES, but the design for Worldbox devices means that multiple companies can participate as vendor suppliers. Specifically, Charter's use of downloadable security technology makes it possible for a wide range of manufacturers to develop the Worldbox hardware that will support the operator's Spectrum-branded video service. (See Charter Thinks Outside the 'Worldbox' and Who Will Own Cable's Content Security?)

Arris is also hoping for a piece of the Charter Worldbox business. Although no agreement has been announced, Arris CEO Bob Stanzione said last week that he believes his company will maintain its set-top market share and ultimately become a Worldbox partner as well. (See Arris Likes Its Charter Chances Too.)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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