How RDK is branching out to cover smart TVs and FWA

Now spanning video and broadband devices and a subset of the Internet of Things (IoT) arena, the Reference Design Kit (RDK) has come a long way since humble beginnings that appear to extend back to circa 2010.

RDK, an open-source software stack managed by a joint venture of Comcast, Charter Communications and Liberty Global, has been deployed to more than 100 million devices worldwide, up from about the 80 million reported in May 2021. The group's president, Jason Briggs, recently joined the Light Reading Podcast to provide an update on RDK's activity, the organization's top priorities and some thoughts about what's ahead for the open source platform.

RDK's use cases have expanded through the years. After initially focusing on video set-tops, RDK profiles have been developed for broadband gateways and connected cameras. Work is also underway to adapt the video profile of the platform (RDK-V) to connected televisions and extend the broadband profile (RDK-B) to support fixed wireless access (FWA) services.

After an initial focus on cable operators, RDK has also branched out to gain support from telcos and other types of service providers.

"The key that really ties all of this together and the key to our growing adoption is the fact that we provide a common way to manage all of these devices, a common way to provision the devices to get the data off of those devices," Briggs says. "If you think of yourself as an integrated service provider providing a lot of different services, it gives you a more easy and stable way to get access to those devices and the data they provide."

The discussion also covers some of the recent RDK activity circulating around the smart TV. Briggs notes that the TV is merely viewed as another device that can be supported by the RDK-V profile.

"From my perspective, RDK-V can fit any sort of device with a screen," he says. "It could be a set-top box connected to a screen, or it could be a screen itself, which, you know, in theory would have a set-top box in there."

You can download a lightly edited transcript of the podcast here. If you want to skip around and listen, here are a few topics discussed during this podcast:

  • Briggs offers a little RDK 101 with a high-level overview of the software (1:01)
  • An update on RDK's reach, including device deployments and support from both tech companies and service providers (2:00)
  • The big takeaways from the recent RDK summit held during IBC in Amsterdam (5:50)
  • A closer look at why "Lightning," an additive component to the RDK, is being considered as an alternative to HTML5 (7:44)
  • Briggs' top priorities for RDK Management heading into 2023 (10:00)
  • How India's BCN is a prime example of how RDK can be used as a platform to accelerate the deployment of services (11:00)
  • How smart TVs are starting to connect into the RDK ecosystem and how they fit into RDK's existing RDK-V profile (13:00)
  • Why Briggs believes RDK is positioned to differentiate against competing platforms like Android TV (19:30)
  • Why RDK Management is exploring an implementation for 5G fixed wireless gateways (24:30)
  • How operators and suppliers can get involved in RDK (28:20)

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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