Comcast's X1 to Fly First in Boston?
Neil Smit, the president and CEO of Comcast's cable unit, said on the MSO's first-quarter earnings call Wednesday that Comcast plans to launch the X1 in one "major" market in the second quarter before introducing it to other systems later in the year. (See Comcast to Swing Xcalibur Wide in 2012 and Comcast IDs Cloud TV Product as 'X1' .)
Smit didn't say where or precisely when the product would be launched, but multiple sources say the MSO has been field testing the platform in the Boston area and that the intention is to launch X1 there sometime in May. Comcast declined to comment about its X1 market deployment plans.
Augusta, Ga., has served as the site of a small, technical trial site of X1, previously referred to as Xcalibur, but, according to a source, the new service won't be launched in the Atlanta region until later this summer, perhaps by July. Comcast execs reiterated Wednesday that they expect to have X1 rolled out to "hundreds of thousands" of customers this year.
The X1 box, made by Pace plc , is a hybrid QAM/IP gateway that will feature a new cloud-based user interface, which should be simpler to navigate than the current grid system, and applications developed by Comcast alongside some limited apps from third parties (the Augusta trial, for example, features an app for Pandora Media Inc. ). It's also believed that the broader Xcalibur project, along with Comcast's rollout of Docsis 3.0, will set the table for the MSO's broader IP video migration. (See Comcast Starts to Kiss Analog TV Goodbye.)
Comcast has an all-IP client box called the X3 on the roadmap, but a source says the first multi-room DVR implementation for the X1 will involve the RNG150, an all-digital HD client box that supports Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) for high-speed home networking. (See Comcast Sizes Up All-IP Set-Top and Comcast 'RNG' Set-Tops Have IPTV Potential .)
If Comcast indeed launches X1 in Boston later this month, the timing is perfect to show off the platform to the industry. Boston is the site of The Cable Show, set for May 21-23. It also happens to be a market where Comcast faces off with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s FiOS TV service.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable
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