Video services

The Cable Show 2012: Seven Big Takeaways

5. Docsis 3.x is real
I was asked (politely) to stop writing about Docsis 3.x/3.1, a potential enhancement to the Docsis 3.0 CableLabs specs that beef up cable's feeble upstream. Well, I didn't come out of the show with anything that would advance the story much further, but I did get plenty of confirmation that this work is indeed proceeding. While I can understand that people would prefer to see a lid put on something before it's fully cooked, we'd also hope that there's some understanding that we also have a job to do. When someone blurts out the existence of such work, we can't just ignore it.

6. Comcast's RDK is a big deal
Chipmakers and other vendors are lining up to license Comcast's reference development kit (RDK), a pre-integrated software bundle for chips that power next-gen QAM/IP and IP-only set-top boxes (check out this video interview for a quick rundown).

This could open up the set-top box environment and serve to speed up the development of the devices themselves. Comcast is big enough to push that agenda on its own, but it will likely need other cable operators to suppress the "not invented here" attitudes that have blocked uniform, baseline technical approaches, particularly when it comes to set-tops. From our discussions on the floor, it appears that some of Comcast's peers are at least showing some interest in drafting off of the RDK effort.

7. Cable's serious about home security and automation
Execs from Comcast, TW Cable, Cox Communications Inc. and Icontrol Networks Inc. took me to task Wednesday, when I moderated a panel on these topics. I mentioned a recent analyst report suggesting that cable will have a hard time creating a material business out of their home security/automation services in the next five years. They argued it's not fair to make assumptions on how much business they can siphon out of the current market, because their platforms' new features and capabilities will create a much larger addressable market.

Other thoughts: the set-top box market is ripe for disruption, the "headless" gateway appears to be a key strategy cable operators are pursuing, and the notion of big data is now on cable's radar.

I could go on. And I probably missed some points. What were your big takeaways from this year's show in Beantown? The message board awaits your thoughts.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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Cooper10 12/5/2012 | 5:31:52 PM
re: The Cable Show 2012: Seven Big Takeaways

Good summary, Jeff - I would add a couple more trends, not necessarily specific to the Cable Show, but trends all the same.

- TV Everywhere is getting significant traction, but it is still not happening fast enough.  Networks and distributors can't afford to wait for their existing contracts to expire before they negotiate TV Everywhere rights, it needs to happen sooner vs. later - technology isn't going to wait for distribution contracts to expire.

- Consumers will increasingly be in control of the user interface/user experience they want to use to access content - the idea of a network or a service provider "controlling" the user interface is becoming less realistic as technology continues to provide the customer more and more control

- Serious fractures are beginning to develop in the broadcast distribution model.  Longer term, hard to argue that more and more high value content will migrate away from being available for free over the air - if Aereo and others are successful, the logical response will be to pull high value content away from OTA distribution and into distribution channels where a dual revenue stream can be realized - expect lots of hand-wringing over the demise of "free, over the air TV".

msilbey 12/5/2012 | 5:31:51 PM
re: The Cable Show 2012: Seven Big Takeaways

TiVo is in an interesting spot at the moment. It's finally able to combine cable linear *and* VoD content with OTT video (in limited markets). So far it's the only set-top player that can do that, but it's got a limited window to enjoy the advantage. As more cable VoD is available over IP, more hardware players (e.g. Xbox) will be able to do the same. TiVo should really press the advantage and freshen up its UI to gain a new base of loyal users. 

RE, broadcast- I fully agree with Cooper that fractures are starting to emerge. The big question is what type of content will be relegated to free OTA in the future? The lowest of the low?

And finally on viewdini- such an odd launch. I saw in the Comcast booth that Comcast Labs has its own take on a mobile portal for accessing lots of video content. Those guys had no idea viewdini was coming. That said, the viewdini interface looks nice, and I'll be happy to test it out when it becomes available for my Android LTE phone in a few weeks. 

AESerm 12/5/2012 | 5:31:51 PM
re: The Cable Show 2012: Seven Big Takeaways

Between X1 and TiVo you've got a large chunk of the UI action. In this post for Videonet I added mention of NDS Surfaces, Cisco Voyager Vantage, Active Video's related work, Moto's Dream Gallery. On DOCSIS vs. PON, recall that CCAP made room for EPON, but EPoC is something else, an end-around, so good to flag that one. Still trying to figure out what to make of Viewdini. Mabye wait until it actually launches.

craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 5:31:49 PM
re: The Cable Show 2012: Seven Big Takeaways

Just flipped on my laptop and was surprised to see "CableWiFi" among my SSID choices. Word at the Cable Show was that the industry's new WiFi moniker wouldn't be used for a bit, but I guess Cablevision has decided to move ahead (I'm in CVC's suburban NYC market). The optimumwifi SSID is still listed too. 

I'm on CableWiFi now. Can you tell..........how.........fast.........it..........is? I'm joking, it's perfectly fine so far. I'll ask my neighbors if they're noticing the new ID and what they think of cable's effort. At least the cable one reads a little easier than optimumwifi, which looks like the name of a Native American tribe.        


joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:31:48 PM
re: The Cable Show 2012: Seven Big Takeaways

Good to know, thanks.

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