Video services

Cisco, Humax & Technicolor Join Comcast's Crew

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH) are the latest major set-top vendors to confirm they have licensed the Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) Reference Design Kit (RDK), a pre-packaged bundle of software for IP-capable set-tops and gateways that aims to cut the development cycle for such products down to a year or less. (See Comcast's Set-Top Accelerator Gains Traction .)

South Korea-based Humax Co. Ltd. also has obtained an RDK license, according to industry sources.

Getting the license doesn't guarantee purchases, but it's one of the steps all box-makers will need to take if they are to get any future business with Comcast and other cable operators that end up adopting the RDK approach.

The first product to use the RDK is the X1, a hybrid QAM/IP box made by Pace plc and powered by Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) silicon. Pace is also among the developers of an IP-only client box called the XI3 that uses the Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) BCM 7428 chipset. (See Meet Comcast's IP-Only Set-Top and Comcast's Cloud TV Service Rolls Into Atlanta.)

A Cisco spokeswoman said the company has obtained the license, but offered no guidance on RDK product development plans. More about Humax's involvement in the RDK project will be revealed in a future story.

Pascal Portelli, SVP of Connected Home at Technicolor, said his company signed the licensed early this year and that the vendor is "actively developing one product" and has another in the "early phase of development" based on the platform. Technicolor intends to demonstrate its initial RDK wares at tradeshows starting next year.

Technicolor already supplies Comcast with Docsis 3.0 wireless gateways, Digital Terminal Adapter (DTA) devices, touch screens for its Xfinity Home service and the device powering Comcast's Skype TV product. (See Comcast's Technicolor Dream Gateway, Technicolor to Make Comcast's Skype TV Box and Comcast Goes Big With Xfinity Home .)

The RDK is expected to help Comcast usher in new hybrid QAM/IP gateways, IP-only video clients and possibly a new type of "headless" gateway that would serve as the home's central demarcation point and shuttle IP video streams to connected TVs, tablets and small client boxes.

Comcast's RDK license base continues to expand. Here's an updated list of licensees that are known to Light Reading Cable.

Table 1: The Growing RDK Ecosystem
Licensee Product Category
Alticast Corp. Set-top software, system integration and testing
Arris Group Inc. Set-tops and gateways
Broadcom Corp. Set-top silicon
Cisco Systems Set-tops and gateways
Entropic Communications Inc. Set-top silicon
Evolution Digital LLC IP video clients
Humax Co. Ltd. Set-tops and gateways
Intel Corp. Set-top silicon
itaas Inc. Product testing and integration
Motorola Mobility Set-tops and gateways
Pace plc Set-tops and gateways
S3 Ltd. Product testing and integration
Tata Elxsi Ltd. Product testing and integration
Technicolor SA Set-tops and gateways
Source: Company reports and Light Reading Cable research.

Beyond Comcast, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Charter Communications Inc. and Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) are among the cable operators that have RDK product initiatives underway or are evaluating the platform.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:19:26 PM
re: Cisco, Humax & Technicolor Join Comcast's Crew

Oh, and to make it more interesting, we're starting to hear that there are maybe dozens of licencees lining up that all want to take a look at the code and then make decisions from there. I also get the sense that alot of the interest is centering on the IP client side because there's less of a focus on tru2way in those. I'll have to flesh out that angle a bit more, but i thought that was interesting to hear.  The tru2way Reference Implementation is covered by the RDK, but who else other than Comcast uses it?  TW Cable has at least three different types of tru2way stacks going from what i gather. JB

craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 5:19:26 PM
re: Cisco, Humax & Technicolor Join Comcast's Crew

Clearly the RDK is exciting the marketplace but someone please tell me this isn't tru2way set-tops all over again. When I look at that list of participating companies I get this creepy feeling that I've seen this movie before.

craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 5:19:25 PM
re: Cisco, Humax & Technicolor Join Comcast's Crew

Just to clarify, my snooty comment was more about the process that took place around tru2way STBs and other products, not about tru2way/OCAP software technology itself, which I gather still has merit. 

The way that the tru2way product market unfolded, a number of players were led down a primrose path that proved to be costly and went nowhere. Did you look at those fees that had to be paid to CableLabs for tru2way certification? Youch.

With Comcast driving the RDK process, things will be much easier and cheaper. (Read that statement with great skepticism.) 

As to your question about who's using tru2way already, I believe you can add Cox to the list.

By the way, I'm now watching the Galaxy ad that became the inspiration for the title of this comment thread and the guy says deja vu 4 times, not 3. And "the headphone jack is going to be on the bottom -- pywhew!"      

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:19:23 PM
re: Cisco, Humax & Technicolor Join Comcast's Crew

Right, Cox is indeed on the list of those using tru2way. I was thinking of the specific reference implementation version that's included in the RDK; i can't recall if Cox is using the RI or a different version of the stack. And i'll have to find out if that's important or not as operators consider adopting products that use the RDK. JB

BillShepp 12/5/2012 | 5:19:18 PM
re: Cisco, Humax & Technicolor Join Comcast's Crew

Hi, all,

If I recall, Cox is running tru2way primarily on Cisco boxes running Cisco's tru2way implementation.  Most of the MSO's are now shipping tru2way as part of their premium box packages.

Craig, I'd be surprised if what CableLabs charges for certification differs much from what the STB vendors spend internally to do the comparable integration testing, and one benefit of Tru2way is once you test the implementation, it reduces future testing which might be required when updating other parts of the stack...



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