The first ever attempt to create a pre-integrated, RDK-based set-top box solution will accelerate time-to-market for operators and it will be used by multiple new RDK customers in 2019, including at least one cable operator and, significantly, a telco. It points to the growing need among Pay TV operators to onboard apps and do it quickly in a world where more consumers are watching streaming services via their television.
Commscope (which acquired the gateway and STB provider ARRIS) and the app store specialist Metrological have worked with RDK Management to create what is called the RDK Lab Accelerator. This is effectively a productized RDK offer based on the ARRIS VIP5202W UHD IP set-top box. It includes an application development platform that uses the new RDK App Framework (which was unveiled at IBC last year). It also includes the pre-integrated Metrological App Store.
Until now, the RDK environment has provided a collection of RDK-compatible components (software and hardware) that an operator (or systems integrator working for them) would put together. This is in contrast to Android TV Operator Tier, which gives you UI/UX freedom but otherwise comes as a package. Now operators who want a pre-integrated approach in the Linux-based, RDK environment have one.
According to Thijs Bijleveld, SVP Sales and Marketing at Metrological, operators using the Lab Accelerator configuration will be able to deploy live set-top boxes within 3-6 months of a project kick-off. The pre-integration is not an exclusive arrangement, so either Metrological or ARRIS can work with other vendors to create different pre-integrated, productized versions of an RDK platform.
Bijleveld denies this is a response to the increasing success of the Android TV OS in the operator realm, saying time-to-market is not the factor that determines whether an operator chooses RDK or Android. “Not every operator has an appetite for Android,” he points out.
“There was demand in the market for this approach. There is a trend towards using more proven, productized solutions and away from doing a complete build yourself. People want a non-Android based solution that could get them to market faster.”
The Metrological App Store includes popular services like Netflix, Amazon and YouTube, plus a wide range of video-centric apps that operators can onboard subject to commercial deals with the respective app providers. Metrological is long-established as an app store leader – and as you can read in a separate story, it is helping operators to surface apps content everywhere in their UI and not just via the ‘store’ itself.
The RDK Lab Accelerator set-top box (VIP5202W) includes built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and voice control compatibility. RDK Management talks about the RDK Lab Accelerator as a reference integration that allows operators to expedite application development and testing, as well as service deployment.
“Many operators simply want an off-the-shelf RDK set-top box experience to test and develop their next-gen video services, and ARRIS has made that easy with the RDK Lab Accelerator,” says Steve Heeb, President and General Manager of RDK. The configuration can be, and is being, deployed commercially, it should be emphasised.