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Comcast Connecting to Samsung TVs by Xmas

TORONTO -- SCTE Canadian Summit 2011 -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s full slate of linear and on-demand video content looks poised to make its debut on some Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) connected TVs by this holiday season.

Comcast will show off the latest and greatest version of its Samsung app in June at The Cable Show in Chicago, and "we'll launch it by Christmas," Comcast EVP and CTO Tony Werner said here at a morning session dedicated to "Decoding the Future of Cable."

Comcast, along with Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), revealed plans for broadband-fed Samsung TVs and the CE giant's new Galaxy Tab in January at the International CES . TW Cable has a similar deal with Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE). (See The Rise of Cable Apps, CES 2011: Samsung Puts MSOs in the Picture and CES 2011: TW Cable, Sony Make IPTV Connection.)

Here at the show, Werner said the first implantation will rely on Comcast's standard conditional access system to keep that content protected. The TV set, meanwhile, will attach to APIs that Comcast is already using to bring video to the iPad. As the Apple tablet goes, Comcast, Werner noted, will start allowing customers to view linear content later this year. Today, it has access to hundreds of on-demand titles. (See Press 'Play Now' on the iPad.)

Still bullish on tru2way
Although tru2way will have little role at retail, Comcast remains committed to the middleware platform as a "unification layer." And Comcast views tru2way's as a low-cost alternative and a way to help it abstract the hardware while standardizing components like DVR commands. (See Tru2way: Epic Fail at Retail.)

"We don't see it as a real advanced platform, but as the most cost-effective middleware option we've got due to the work we're doing with the reference implementation," Werner said, noting that Comcast already supports 11 million boxes that can use tru2way. (See Is Tru2way Ready to Grow Up? and CableLabs to Release Tru2way 'Reference'.)

Meanwhile, Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI), Canada's largest MSO, remains reluctant to go with tru2way as it assesses its next big set-top move. But whatever path it does take, it will try to ensure that it's scalable in a way that customers can access its video via the Rogers cable and wireless networks, said Dermot O'Carroll, Rogers's SVP of access networks. (See Rogers Seeks Tru2way Alternative .)

"Ultimately we will go IP because ... we want to deliver content on all devices," he said.

While having different views on tru2way, both Werner and O'Carroll agreed that Docsis 3.0 will play a key role in cable's migration to IP video. (See Docsis 3.0 Tackles Linear IP Video.)

D3, O'Carroll said, "will allow us to put voice, video and data all on the same transport platform. Our view is when we get there [to IP video] it will be over the Docsis platform."

Werner said advanced gateways with transcoding capabilities will also play a role in the transition, but will largely help companies like Comcast get its content to other connected CE devices in the home. Comcast, he added, will also support less complicated, lower-cost IP-based set-tops that will be able to communicate directly over the network as the MSO completes upgrades to support IP video. (See Comcast 'RNG' Set-Tops Have IPTV Potential .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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