Liberty Global Joins RDK JV

Liberty Global has become an official card-carrying member in the RDK club.

Following an earlier decision to license the Reference Design Kit, a pre-integrated software package for IP-capable set-tops and gateways, Liberty Global has taken a much more committed step forward by becoming a member of RDK Management LLC, the joint venture originally formed by Comcast and Time Warner Cable last August.

Liberty Global’s stake in the J.V. was not disclosed (Comcast has historically taken in the role of “managing member” in venture), but the MSO, which operates extensively in Europe, “will provide technical, financial, and management oversight resources to support the joint venture,” according to the announcement issued early Thursday morning.

Liberty Global, which announced its new role in the J.V. at this week’s Cable Congress event in Amsterdam, has already begun to factor the RDK into the development of a new cloud-based user interface for its Horizon video platform. The MSO expects to start rolling out its cloud UI in the next 30 to 45 days,  Balan Nair Chief Technology Officer, Liberty Global, said Thursday at Cable Congress, according to Broadband TV News.

Liberty Global's deeper involvement seemingly solidifies Liberty Global’s long-term interest in the RDK.

And it cements the RDK's global focus. RDK Management is already developing a 2.0 version of the RDK that will strip out U.S.-centric technology requirements to ensure that it’s compatible with cable systems that use Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB), a standard that is popular in Europe.

Liberty Global’s commitment will also bring more scale to the RDK ecosystem, which today comprises more than 120 licensees, including set-top makers, silicon vendors, test and integration specialists, and video software companies. Fifteen service operators worldwide have licensed the RDK, including Comcast, which is using the RDK for its X1 platform, and TWC and Kabel Deutschland, which will be using it to power next-gen IP video products. Other operators that have expressed interest in RDK include Rogers Communications of Canada, J:COM of Japan, and Cox Communications, which has also been in talks with Comcast about licensing the X1 platform.

“Liberty Global was an early proponent of the RDK, and today we’re taking a strategic stake in the JV because of the clear technical advantages it provides to us and the industry at large,” Nair said in a statement. “We believe RDK provides a baseline of standardization that will yield faster development and launch cycles of next-generation in-home devices and video services. It’s a key part of our product roadmap. The combination of leading North American and European operators will enable RDK to build global scale and accelerate benefits to all RDK licensees.”

“We are very pleased to welcome Liberty Global to the RDK Management LLC,” added Steve Heeb, president and GM of RDK Management LLC. “Our goal has always been to design a solution that would help operators around the world. We are confident that Liberty Global will provide invaluable knowledge and leadership as we continue to expand our licensee base and provide MVPDs with an underlying software bundle that can enable cloud-based services, modern UI’s, and faster development cycles of IP-connected devices.”