Liberty Global is currently finalizing its trials for a commercial launch of an RDK-based STB platform in Poland, which will be the most significant development for RDK in Europe so far. Lyall Sumner, TV Product Development, Liberty Global, revealed the developments at Connected TV Summit last month. This will probably be the first commercial roll out of RDK in Europe. Hrvatski Telekom, the Deutsche Telekom subsidiary, has a pilot RDK IPTV service running in Croatia.
The official word from the RDK community (including the publicly announced licensee operators and software vendors) is that RDK is ready for Europe. RDK Management, the joint venture that manages the shared source software stack (the JV stakeholders are Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Liberty Global) announced at Connected TV Summit that DVB-specific components supporting elements like teletext and subtitles are now available.
The addition of DVB-specific elements is a good example of the concept of â€˜Vote with your codeâ€™, which underpins the RDK project. If any licensee wants new features in the RDK stack they, or their partners, can develop the code and submit it for approval and testing. If it passes the tests (including obviously, the requirement to integrate into the stack without destabilizing any previous functionality), it is adopted, meaning it is contributed into RDK.
This is what has happened with the DVB teletext and subtitle functions, the development of which was led by Liberty Global and SeaChange International, the CPE software, VOD and multiscreen software provider, with input from other parties.
Steve Heeb, President and General Manager at RDK Management, explained: â€œEveryone reviewed the code, it is great code and so it came into the RDK trunk and boom â€“ everyone gets access to it.â€ He added that these DVB components will be deployed this year.
Other software vendors can now access the DVB components for projects they are working on. Jaison Dolvane, President and CEO at the TV software (middleware, browser and VOD) solutions provider Espial pointed out: â€œWe are already working with that [new DVB] code that is in the trunk. We have already pulled it down for a couple of major European cable projects.â€
Shiva Patibanda, Chief Technology Officer at SeaChange (which was an early contributor to RDK in 2010) said: â€œWe are contributing to RDK some European components [teletext and subtitling components] that are necessary for RDK in Europe. The industry also needs some components for handling DVB-SI and these are being developed. Extra work is needed for that and other vendors are contributing towards it.â€
RDK Management said it is â€œworking with the RDK community on a path to support the use of in-band DVB SI for European operators.â€
SeaChange is a leading advocate of RDK. Patibanda says the strength of the project is that it provides operators with a single software stack to port instead of multiple stacks. â€œBefore, you had to support a stack for each OEM [STB maker]. Now there is a single stack and all the SoC providers support it. The power of the stack is that it is modular â€“ there is a single version of the stack and it can be configured for DVB by adding DVB components.â€
You can read more about the anticipated (and already witnessed) benefits of RDK, with the thoughts of Time Warner Cable, Liberty Global and RDK Management here.