RDK 2.0 Guns for Global Acceptance

A new version of the Reference Design Kit, a pre-integrated software bundle for QAM/IP and IP-only set-tops and gateways, will strive to remove U.S.-centric requirements and some proprietary elements while holding onto key open source components as the platform is molded and shaped to conform with cable systems operated around the world.

A spokeswoman for RDK Development LLC, a joint venture formed by Comcast and Time Warner Cable earlier this month, confirmed that the new version, called RDK 2.0, is “under development,” but declined to reveal more details, including when it might reach completion.

According to multiple industry sources familiar with it, RDK 2.0 will free itself of U.S.-only requirements, including, the Open Cable Application Platform reference design, and add hooks that will make it compatible with Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB), a standard that is popular in markets such as Europe.

RDK 2.0 “is all about DVB and helping out the European operators,” an industry source said.

Making the RDK more agnostic while retaining important open source components, such as Gstreamer, could make  the RDK more attractive to non-U.S. operators, and give the RDK a chance to achieve global scale. One  key aim of the RDK is to accelerate product development cycles.

Liberty Global, which owns and operates systems in many parts of Europe, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, has been linked to the RDK, but has not announced an RDK product strategy as the MSO continues to roll out the first iteration of its IP-capable Horizon platform.

However, Liberty Global’s plan to shift Horizon’s interface to the cloud, might factor into future plans involving the RDK. Speaking on the company’s second quarter earnings call on August 2, Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries noted that the operator recently demonstrated a cloud-based version of Horizon in London. He said Liberty Global “will have a ready-to-launch cloud-based version of the user interface which will make future releases simpler [and] reduce the cost of the box.”

The RDK’s progress toward becoming a more global-focused platform will be evident in Amsterdam at the IBC Conference, which gets underway September 12.

Several vendors, including Alticast, Broadcom and Entropic Communications, are lining up RDK product demos that tie in components that make them more DVB-friendly.

More details on those product demos and an update on where else RDK is gaining traction around the world will be covered in an IBC preview set to appear in the September 2 issue of Multichannel News.