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Comcast RDK picks up steam with addition of Motorola

Wed, 08/22/2012 - 3:51pm
Mike Robuck

Motorola Mobility became the latest feather in the cap of the Comcast Reference Design Kit after announcing this morning that it had struck a licensing agreement with Comcast.

Previously announced licensees for the Reference Design Kit (RDK) include itaas, Entropic, Broadcom and, just last week, S3 Group.

The RDK’s goal is to cut down the development cycle down for new set-top boxes from two years to one year, or even under one year. Whether Google, which owns Motorola, decides to spin off the Home division of Motorola that makes set-top boxes and other gear for cable operators, Motorola’s involvement in the RDK is a key addition to the initiative.

“Our goal is to work closely with our operator customers to provide consumers with simple and intuitive entertainment experiences so they can enjoy their content anytime, anywhere, on any screen,” said Larry Robinson, Motorola Mobility senior vice president and general manager, Home Devices. “We’ve worked closely with Comcast as a strategic and innovative partner for many years, and we’re excited to license the RDK as a smart, integrated solution to help move the industry forward in the evolution of TV.”

The Comcast RDK was developed internally using open-source components and by working with various vendors. The RDK is a community-based project that allows developers, vendors and cable operators to use a defined stack of software on one layer in order to provision set-top boxes and gateways.

The RDK allows all of the interested parties to develop once and then scale across multiple environments – in the CableCard/QAM/MEPG-2 world of today, as well as in the IP environment of tomorrow.

“Accelerating the cycle of innovation for video solutions, and specifically set-tops, is a common industry goal,” said Steve Reynolds, senior vice president, CPE and Home Network for Comcast. “We are thrilled that an industry innovator such as Motorola is embracing this cooperative effort to provide operators, developers and device vendors the foundation required to innovate at a fast pace – a requirement in today’s rapidly-changing multi-screen TV environment.”

Cable operators that are part of the RDK include, in addition to Comcast, Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable and Liberty Global.

Comcast used the RDK to develop its Pace-made “Parker” boxes that are being used for its X1 service, which was formerly called Xcalibur. After a trial in Augusta, Ga. last year, Comcast has launched out the cloud and IP-based X1 platform Boston and other areas of its footprint. The RDK is also the basis for Comcast’s IP XI3 client device that will work in conjunction with the cable operator’s XG1 hybrid gateways.

Speaking at The Cable Show, Charter Communication’s David Colter, vice president of architecture and technology, said his company had been looking at several transitional paths to all digital and migrating to IP. Charter is looking at using the RDK with an HTML 5-based user interface, with a field trial slated for the middle of next year.

Also at The Cable Show, Time Warner Cable’s Chris Cholas, director, subscriber equipment, said his company was using the RDK for its IP set-top box initiative in conjunction with its cloud-based guide for navigation. In its most recent earnings call, Time Warner Cable said it would start rolling out the cloud-based guide and IP set-top boxes next year.

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