Comcast's RDK Accelerates

Feb. 6, 2013
The momentum for Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Reference Design Kit (RDK) initiative continued to pick up steam last month, with one of the most recent announcements being a licensing agreement for ThinkAnalytics' recommendation engine. Earlier in January, Pace and B...
The momentum for Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Reference Design Kit (RDK) initiative continued to pick up steam last month, with one of the most recent announcements being a licensing agreement for ThinkAnalytics' recommendation engine. Earlier in January, Pace and Broadcom announced a Media Server Gateway that uses the RDK software and Comcast's XG5 specification. And, at CES, ARRIS demoed an RDK-based gateway, while SeaChange showed what it terms a soft-box gateway, which also supports the RDK environment.All is further evidence that the industry is recognizing several important things about the gateway/set-top of the future, said Eric Miller, VP of engineering at SeaChange. For starters, consumers want the convenience of a DVR in the home without having to have a DVR in every room, and they want the ability to watch recorded content on any device. This requires the centralized management of content and the blending of content between the Internet and television."Cable operators are addressing all that in how they approach the next evolution of set-top boxes," Miller said. "RDK is really a way to specify what the operating system software looks like on a set-top and what are the features we want on (several) classes of devices."Specifically, RDK is a pre-integrated software bundle intended to create a common framework for powering tru2way, IP or hybrid set-top boxes and gateway devices to accelerate the development and deployment of next-generation video services.The rule of thumb has been that from the time a new chip is released, it has taken about three years of integration and testing myriad variations before a box actually ends up in the home. It is practically out of date by the time it is put into use, Miller said. "This is what RDK tries to address. The goal is to (be able) to deliver a new design to the market in 18 months. This is more comparable to what gaming machines or mobile devices are delivering."What companies like SeaChange also are trying to address is the need for a cross-operator application framework that would run on top of RDK devices. Service providers are looking for options to purchase the paradigm necessary to pull down interesting applications, Miller said, noting that his company's Nucleus offers such a framework.Dubbed a soft box solution, the Nucleus software allows it to be utilized across platforms and hardware. "The operator selects the box they want it to sit on, vs. other gateways where they are buying the box with the software in it," Miller said.Monta Monaco Hernon is a free-lance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].

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