The Cable Show 2012: Seven Big Takeaways
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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