S3 Group announced today that it has licensed the Comcast Reference Design Kit (RDK) and will now provide its professional services to help integrate the RDK onto various set-top box platforms.

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. While Comcast doesn’t provide a full list of licensees, it has publicly licensed the RDK to itaas, Entropic and Broadcom.

The endgame for the RDK is to cut the development cycle down for new set-top boxes from two years to one year, or even under one year.

S3 Group will pitch in on the RDK by providing its system integration experience for multi-screen digital TV devices, along with its StormTest suite of automated testing solutions, to ensure quality and timely deployment of devices to the end customer.

"The Comcast RDK initiative marks an important moment for our industry. Our licensing deal with Comcast provides crucial added value for those operators looking to implement the RDK, which can now be accomplished utilizing the expertise from S3 Group that they've come to know and trust," said Philip Brennan, vice president of TV technology at S3 Group. "Our support of the Comcast RDK, combined with more than 18 years' experience in digital TV system integration and solution development, is a testament to why S3 Group is the optimal choice for operators that are under increasing pressure to deliver reliable platforms and best QoE to their customers."

Cable operators that have openly embraced the RDK to date include, in addition to Comcast, Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable and Liberty Global.

"With the RDK, Comcast is seeding the growth of a community-driven software platform that addresses one of the industry's biggest problems – the lengthy process of device development and deployment," said Steve Reynolds, senior vice president of CPE and home networking for Comcast. "With the cooperation of S3 Group and others, the RDK provides 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."