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Comcast's IP Set-Top Club Expands

By Jeff Baumgartner, Editor, Light Reading Cable | Mon, 17 Sep 2012

Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) and Evolution Digital LLC are among the latest vendors to obtain licenses for Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s reference design kit (RDK), a bundle of software for hybrid QAM/IP and IP-only set-top boxes, Light Reading Cable has learned.

The RDK aims to cut the product cycle on set-top boxes from two years to a year or even less. It includes the CableLabs reference implementation of tru2way middleware and community-sourced components such as the Gstreamer media playback platform and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) Qt windowing framework, and is baked into set-top chips from sources such as Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) and Entropic Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ENTR).

The promise of faster deployment cycles and a more open environment for applications that relies on a cloud-based architecture has also drawn interest from other major MSOs that are moving ahead with IP video migrations, including Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Charter Communications Inc. (See Comcast's Set-Top Accelerator Gains Traction .)

...Evolution, meanwhile, has catered to Tier 2/3 providers but sees the RDK as an opportunity to win business with the Tier 1s. Evolution has yet to launch any RDK products, but it's responding to some proposals that would involve implementing it in IP-only video client devices, says Brent Smith, the company's president.

How quickly Evolution moves forward will depend on how soon the chips with the RDK become available. "We don't control the chip itself. We build the box around it," Smith says.

Evolution also intends to see how the RDK concept could be applied outside the U.S. for cable operators that use the Digital Video Broadcasting Project platform and are likewise preparing to make the leap to IP video. (We'll have more about that strategy in a future story.)

"The RDK concept offers a way that levels the playing field in terms of the mechanics of delivering an IP service," Smith says.

To read the full article, click here.


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