With the formation of RDK Management, Comcast and Time Warner Cable not only reaffirmed their own commitment in regards to developing new boxes on the Comcast RDK, but also signaled to the rest of the cable industry that the RDK was truly an open community.
On Thursday it was announced that the joint venture RDK Management would take over the licensing, training, community support and code management for the Comcast Reference Design Kit from Comcast. Comcast will chip in its RDK components into the new entity, including the RDK code and specifications, related intellectual property rights and associated contracts, including all of the current RDK licenses, which will be transitioned to the RDK Management, LLC.
Time Warner Cable’s Matt Zelesko, senior vice president, converged technology group, said the new entity would have its own dedicated office space and staff, which would most likely be located in one of Comcast’s Philadelphia offices.
“There will be a small full time staff for the RDK entity,” Zelesko said. “For some of it we will hire on new people and in certain cases, and for certain functions, we may leverage staff from Comcast and may even leverage some staff from TWC. A lot of this hasn’t been hammered out completely, but the notion is that certainly there will be some amount of dedicated staff.
“We’re going to leverage partners to do a lot of the work. Certainly from a code management perspective, the support of the licenses, etcetera, will be through partners, but of course someone has to mange those partners.”
With Comcast spurring the development, Comcast and Time Warner Cable have been at the forefront of the RDK to date, but Zelesko said the new joint venture would hopefully lead to other cable operators licensing it.
“At this stage we wanted to start with the two founding members,” Zelesko said when asked why other MSOs weren’t included in the joint venture. “I would say directionally we’re not opposed to having more people join, but we also understand that as more people join the ability to get things done goes down. I think Comcast has done a great job of stewarding and shepherding the RDK to this point. Stepping out side of that and creating a separate entity I think is a great message to the industry that this is really a community project and not just a Comcast project. I think that will be positively received.
“Anyone can license the RDK for free and we expect more MSOs to do that particularly now that its an independent entity. I think many of the MSOs will be more comfortable with that sort of structure.”
Other cable operators that have expressed an interest in the RDK include Charter Communications, Rogers Communications, J:Com and Liberty Global.
The RDK Central web site, which was launched earlier this year, will be the hub of the new joint venture.
“Essentially all of the licenses that were licensed through Comcast will transfer over and the entity will assume those licenses,” Zelesko said. “From that perspective, Comcast is taking whatever code they had as part of the RDK and contributing it into this entity. That entity will manage that code and manage any improvements and changes from licensees as we kind of carve out the roadmap of the RDK moving forward.”
Near the end of last year Time Warner Cable and Comcast hosted a closed RDK conference for licensees, and Zelesko said he expected a similar event to take place this year, but this time it would be under the auspices of the RDK Management staff and its resources.
“We’re still in the early stages of the entity, but I will say that both companies are extremely excited about it,” Zelesko said. “The question I would get from other MSOs not just about TWC’s commitment to the RDK prior to this, but also what was our comfort level in taking effectively a big part of our strategic platform moving forward and having it in a Comcast run entity? I think in this case we’ve both demonstrated TWC’s commitment to the RDK as our strategic platform for the future, and we’ve also addressed some industry concerns about the future of the RDK and its direction.
“I think this entity is going to be a great shepherd for this moving forward.”