Comcast Readies D3.1 & RDK-B

CHICAGO -- INTX -- Amid a slew of demos and announcements on customer service investments here, Comcast slid in some new details about where it's headed with DOCSIS 3.1 and RDK-B. According to Comcast Vice President of Hardware Design Fraser Stirling, who was on hand at a company press event, the MSO has nearly 1,000 D3.1-ready headends already in the field, all of which can be updated to the new broadband spec with just a software upgrade.

In March, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) Vice President of Access Architecture Jorge Salinger shared the news that the company is already running live DOCSIS 3.1 tests out of one of its headends. (See Comcast Puts DOCSIS 3.1 Live in the Field.)

Stirling went a step further, however, to say that Comcast will launch new D3.1 network trials starting in the third quarter of this year, followed by trials with D3.1 consumer devices -- like Comcast's just-announced Gigabit Home Gateway -- in both Q3 and Q4. (See Cablecos Going Gaga Over Gigabit.)

Comcast' New Gigabit Home Gateway
The new gateway is pictured in two versions: original and mini-me.
The new gateway is pictured in two versions: original and mini-me.

In parallel with its DOCSIS 3.1 efforts, Comcast is also working on development of the new RDK-B software stack for broadband devices. Designed to create a common, open-source platform for cable modems and broadband gateways, RDK-B was only talked about publicly for the first time at the 2014 Cable Show. Comcast then announced last September that it was working with Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) to start field trials of a gateway with the RDK-B stack embedded inside. (See Comcast Plans RDK-for-Broadband Gateway Trials in Q4.)

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Stirling explained that initial RDK-B trials are already underway, both with gateways and with new extender devices that are built to boost in-home WiFi signals. Ultimately, all of the company's dual-band routers will be upgradable to RDK-B.

Stirling also said a second wave of RDK-B trials will start up later this year with the new Gigabit Home Gateways. Not coincidentally, he confirmed that Arris is one of Comcast's manufacturing partners for the gigabit gateway device, along with Taiwanese company Compal Electronics Inc. . Stirling emphasized, however, that the design of the new gateway was created by internal Comcast teams.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

Duh! 5/6/2015 | 10:52:13 AM
Bigger story IMHO, Comcast's customer service announcements are a more important story than their Gigabit positioning, D3.1 and RDK-B.  

Public opposition to the TWC merger was clearly motivated by consumer complaints, and had a large role in torpedoing the deal.  There have also been a spate of embarrassing customer service fails, exposed by way of social media; incidents that can be explained, but not excused.   It's fair to speculate that these must have been a wake-up call.

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