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CommScope Pushes for New Category: the Smart Media Device

NEW ORLEANS — The trend in the video set-top device world has been boxes that have shrunk smaller and smaller, as bulky, energy-hungry DVR set-tops have given way to hockey-puck-like thin-client devices.

CommScope's SMD 7852

CommScope's SMD 7852

However, chatting with Multichannel News at CommScope’s SCTE/ISBE Cable-Tec Expo booth, Charles Cheevers, the longtime customer premises equipment CTO for recent acquisition Arris, said the video set-top is growing anew, pointing to a modular, cube-like piece of hardware that CommScope has labeled the Smart Media Device (SMD).

CommScope’s SMD 7852 features connectivity based on the new WiFi 6 standard and a software stack built on the Reference Design Kit (RDK). This not only enables operators to provide video features like 4K and HDR, but also the ability to integrate popular OTT experiences through the Metrological App Store. The SMD 7852 and its associated IP client device, the VIP7802, were jointly developed in an accelerator program put together by CommScope and RDK Management.

The connected devices are also enabled with far-field voice command technology, enabling operators to pair it with popular voice control software, like Amazon’s Alexa, and turn the SMD into a whole-home controller, or at least one that can handle the television. And notably, the device features a connected speaker to deliver an enhanced audio that operates across entertainment, smart assistant and control scenarios.

For CommScope, RDK and their partners, the device is an important multi-tool to offer operators as rival Google establishes a beachhead in markets like Europe and the U.S. with its Android TV ecosystem.

Telecom CPE watchers will note that the CommScope’s SMD device is already deployed in Europe, with Altice France last month announcing the debut of the SFR Box 8 Smart Media Device. The little box is compatible with both Alexa and SFR’s voice control application.

“Through our combined partnership in connected home technologies, the Smart Media Device will bring voice and media together for an unprecedented user experience,” said said Grégory Rabuel, executive president for general public and companies at SFR, in a statement.

As Cheevers noted, CommScope isn’t alone in marketing an SMD. Roku recently debuted a device that combines a smart speaker with a voice-enabled Roku connected device. And Altice USA started over the summer offering its customers Altice Amplify, an Alexa-infused smart speaker that includes audio technology from Devialet.