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Comcast Backs Off Planned Upgrade of Legacy Set-Top Guide

Offering further evidence that Comcast is more eager than ever to migrate its entire base to its next-gen X1 platform, the MSO has opted not to push forward with a planned upgrade for the “A31” guide on its legacy Motorola digital set-top box platform.

“Recently a decision was made to not move ahead with the upcoming release that was previously referenced,” Comcast noted on its customer forum. “This was a very difficult decision because there were multiple benefits in the release but the [decision] was based on numerous factors and the desire to focus on the future. We have almost 50% of our deployed set tops running on our X1 platform and we are adding about 40,000 more boxes every day on the X1 platform.”   

Comcast, the post added, plans to implement “a simpler and more surgically deployed guide release for A31 legacy set tops” to address some issues on that guide, but noted that those changes likely won’t come out until early 2017.

“We will certainly continue to support our legacy platform for some time,” the post read, adding that most of the MSO’s energy and resources, with respect to the on-screen guide, is going toward X1.

Benefits and enhancements that were on tap for the upgraded A31 release included come code efficiency improvements, bug fixes, repairing a delayed tuning issue on some boxes, as well as some self-service options that would let customers “self-diagnose and self-heal some minor issues.”

And Comcast tried to assure customers that it’s not abandoning the legacy platform, and will continue to support it and make it an option, even as the operator becomes increasingly fixated on X1.

“We are targeting fixes and enhancements for our older cable boxes, just the pace for that has always been much slower (due to many reasons),” the MSO noted in response to questions posted by customers. “These legacy guide code releases are not a huge priority as we continue to have less and less of these boxes in customer homes and we have an alternative solution in place (at the same monthly price) that is a vastly improved experience. We will continue to have legacy cable boxes available (and support for them) for some time for any customer who chooses that option.”

Though X1, which now supports a popular voice remote, is superior to the legacy interface in almost all respects, some customers on the thread were still disappointed to hear news about the decision not to push the A31 upgrade and some remain reluctant to move to Comcast’s new platform.

As for concerns about past problems about X1, Comcast noted in the post that new, cloud-based platform addresses issues and introduces new features on X1 via weekly releases and updates – “something that took 18 to 20 months to fix or correct on our legacy platform.”