RDK Breaks Away From The Set-Top Box

DENVER – SCTE Cable-Tec Expo – The Reference Design Kit (RDK), a preintegrated software stack originally developed for video set-tops and client devices, is making progress on a new front that will add DOCSIS -powered modems and all-service gateways to the product mix.

Progress of that broadband-encompassing work – commonly referred to as “RDK-B” – is evident here at this weeks’ show, inching the cable industry closer to the creation of a common software layer that can be applied not just to set-tops, but to a multitude of consumer premises equipment product types. The additional broadband component will stitch together a uniform software stack that can help operators and their vendor partners simplify and accelerate product development.

On the product front, Comcast and Arris announced Wednesday that they will collaborate on a trial of a broadband-enabled version of the RDK running on the new Arris Touchstone TG1682 DOCSIS 3.0 Voice Gateway in the fourth quarter of 2014. General availability is slated for the first quarter of 2015.

In some ways, the emergence of RDK-B demonstrates the value of the RDK platform’s openness, to the point that vendors will end up using code that is contributed by competing suppliers. In the case of the Arris gateway that Comcast is about to trial, it will be outfitted with CPE routing software that Cisco Systems contributed to the RDK community on an open-source basis back in April 2014.

The emergence of RDK-B and the use of contributed code is “playing out some of the value proposition of the RDK,” Matt Zelesko, senior vice president, Converged Technology Group, at Time Warner Cable, said here Wednesday on a panel dedicated to RDK developments.

Creating a software stack that relies on common components will eliminate the troublesome task of having to conduct tests and trials of duplicative stacks that are all trying to do the same thing, Zelesko added.

While RDK-B solves some problems, it won’t solve them all. RDK, in general, “is not a panacea to all device problems; it’s not a magical cure-all for managing CPE in this new age,” Zelesko said, noting that it does leave operators with the flexibility to innovate in other areas, including the user interface.

Expanded coverage of the panel, which included an RDK deployment update from TWC, Comcast and Liberty Global, will be featured in the Thursday edition of the Multichannel News SCTE Cable-Tec Expo daily. For more news and announcements from this week’s show, please visit our Expo micro-site.