Comcastâ€™s RDK designed originally as an internal platform for IP migration for the operator is now set to be deployed across the whole pay TV ecosystem and not just the cable sector. It is gaining traction as a de facto standard software platform for emerging IP gateways that integrate online content with broadcast services, according to Peter Hahn, product manager at cloud based TV software vendor SeaChange, which is one of the RDK partners.
â€œRDK cuts down drastically on the investment needed by operators to utilise the gateway as the network termination device for Conditional Access (CA), enabling recording and sharing of the same User Experience on a number of streams,â€ said Hahn. â€œIt was initiated by cable guys but our product Nucleus is independent of any delivery mechanism. The RDK itself is not specific to cable, or particular tuners. Itâ€™s fairly abstracted, which gives it the possibility to be taken to other markets.â€
Nevertheless interest in RDK has almost entirely been confined to cable so far. It comprises a pre-integrated bundle of software that was intended to support emerging hybrid QAM/IP and IP-only set-tops, gateways and video client devices, so was directed at cable in the first instance. In order to establish its credentials as an independent platform, Comcast got together mid 2013 with Time Warner Cable (TWC) to form a joint venture, RDK Management LLC, to oversee ongoing development of the RDK. Ironically this once again has a proprietary look following Comcastâ€™s recent $45 billion acquisition of TWC, but fortunately for the venture other operators and partners have now picked up the baton and started running with it.
â€œThere is now competition on the software side, which brings benefits for operators,â€ said Kahn. â€œWe compare it with the Linux market, where a lot of companies provide services around the Linux operating system. We see the future like that for the RDK CPU side.â€ SeaChange itself has added enhancements that enable additional gateway use cases. â€œThe RDK provides the possibility to port the solution to a number of OEM boxes and chips and we have added a lot more functionality such as business logic and an application framework that allows us to integrate software into the operator environment,â€ said Kahn. â€œWe have contributed these back into the RDK community.â€
SeaChangeâ€™s RDK-based box called Nucleus has been shipping almost a year in the U.S. and has been selected by cable operators in a number of other countries. Among European cable operators the strongest support has come from Kabel Deutschland of Germany, now part of Vodafone, which finally announced in February 2014 that it had formally joined the RDK community.