Video services

2012 Leading Lights Finalists: Best Service or App (Cable)

9:00 AM -- It's time to take another step forward as Light Reading sizes up this year's Leading Lights finalists. (You can check out the full list of finalists here; free registration required.)

As a quick reminder, the Leading Lights winners and Light Reading Hall of Fame inductees will be revealed on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the Manhattan Penthouse.

Here are some of the reasons why these six entries made the finals in the category of Best New Service (Cable).

Active Broadband's Active Service Manager
Yes, OSS has a sexy side, at least when it comes to the exploration of new forms of cable revenue streams. Active Broadband Networks Inc. 's turnkey, Web-based platform is designed to help ISPs expand beyond static, all-you-can-eat business models as broadband continues its inexorable migration toward new types of tiers, including usage-based approaches that charge extra once a customer surpasses a monthly ceiling. To demonstrate the importance of this, several major and mid-tier U.S. service operators have already begun to deploy usage-based broadband services.

Another interesting aspect of Active Broadband's platform is that it can help broadband ISPs enter an untapped market using pre-paid services that can be activated using a Web portal and a credit card -- an emerging trend that you'll see appear more than once on this list.

Broadcom's Community Wi-Fi Software on Docsis 3.0 Cable Modem Gateway
A handful of the top U.S. cable operators have already come together on a roaming accord that will interconnect their respective Wi-Fi networks, and Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM)'s new software could help them fill in those gaps in smaller residential environments, without having to rely on a more expansive legion of dedicated Wi-Fi access points.

That's because the approach will let them use already-deployed customer premises equipment (CPE). Broadcom's community Wi-Fi turns wireless Docsis 3.0 cable modem gateways into semi-public hotspots that can be used by roaming data service users. The idea's already hot with European operators, and it could get U.S. cable operators on a path toward ubiquitous Wi-Fi coverage.

Comcast's X1 Platform
The once super-secretive Xcalibur project finally came to light in mid-2011, and now Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has followed through with the launch of its next-generation video product, now called X1. It's already up in four markets -- Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.; Boston; and Chattanooga, Tenn. -- with a couple more expected to follow in the coming weeks.

The introduction represents a big step in Comcast's broader migration away from a set-top-locked world that stymied innovation, and toward IP video and a more open, Web-centric application platform that taps the nimbleness of the cloud, with more advanced and intuitive user interfaces.

The thinking behind X1 is also poised to extend beyond Comcast. It's the first product to use the company's reference design kit (RDK), a pre-integrated bundle of video software that aims to accelerate the product development cycle for hybrid IP/QAM and IP-only video devices. Other major cable operators are expected to use it as well, nudging the industry toward the kind of uniform baseline video platform that it missed out on when cable began to pursue digital video in the 1990s.

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