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Comcast Cloud DVR Storms Down East Coast

Comcast has now extended its X1 cloud DVR down the East Coast, introducing the next-gen service to video customers in southern Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

Those markets combine with earlier deployments in northern Delaware, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Jersey to cover roughly one-third of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s footprint, according to Matt Strauss, senior vice president and general manager of video services for the giant US MSO. Speaking at last week's Cable Show in Los Angeles, Strauss said Comcast has also rolled out the base X1 cloud-based user guide in San Francisco, but has not yet made DVR capabilities available in that northern California market.

With the X1 cloud DVR, Comcast Xfinity subscribers can stream recordings onto a home WiFi network and also download select shows to a mobile device for out-of-home viewing. The cache-and-carry feature is powered by Penthera Partners Inc. , which also demonstrated the application in a Cable Show presentation session last week on the Imagine Park stage. Comcast is relying on both Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) and Pace Micro Technology to supply its X1 home gateways.

As the evolution of X1 continues, Strauss noted that the company is starting to move away from DVR nomenclature. Although yesterday's corporate blog post talked specifically about "X1 DVR with cloud technology," Strauss said that Comcast is starting to focus more on the idea of programming that is always available, including users' "favorited" shows, saved shows, recommended content, and purchased content.

That always-available concept matches up well with another feature that Comcast has developed for instant-on-demand viewing. The instant-on-demand technology, which the MSO plans to introduce later this year, will allow subscribers to watch select shows on demand immediately after the live program starts airing on broadcast TV.

There are numerous other features in the works for X1, including the ability to stream personal photos and videos from a mobile device to an Xfinity user's TV screen. (See Comcast: Stream Phone Videos to Grandma's TV.)

Last year at the Cable Show, Comcast demonstrated a voice-based user interface for X1. Strauss said that the voice UI just began customer trials this month.

To date, Comcast has only offered the X1 platform to its triple-play subscribers. However, according to Strauss, the company is ready to begin extending the service to double-play customers as well.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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