or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › HDTV › HDTV Technical › Comcast Technology Topic
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Comcast Technology Topic - Page 23

post #661 of 838
Comcast Sizes Up All-IP Set-Top

LR Cable News Analysis
April 4, 2012 | Jeff Baumgartner

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has its first all-IP set-top box on the roadmap, Light Reading Cable has learned.

Industry sources say the model, referred to as the X3, is an IP-based, HD client device that's capable of running Comcast's new cloud-based navigation system and handling future services, including a network DVR. (See Comcast Explores Network DVRs [http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable] and Comcast to Run Small Net-DVR Trial [http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable].)

The box appears to be the latest device tagged for Xcalibur, Comcast's next-gen video platform. The first product to come out of that project is the Pace plc -made X1, a hybrid QAM/IP video gateway equipped to support the MSO's new navigation system while opening the door to third-party applications such as Pandora Media Inc. and Facebook . Comcast is testing the X1 in Augusta, Ga., though sources say the MSO expects to start expanding those tests into at least one more market by May. (See Comcast to Swing Xcalibur Wide in 2012 [http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable].)

How the X3 will source linear and on-demand video in the early going was not immediately known. However, its appearance on the roadmap suggests that Comcast may be pursuing the deployment of an IP video simulcast. While the amount of bandwidth required for that seems to vary, cable engineers have indicated recently that an MSO might need to carve out 24 to 32 channels to produce a full IP simulcast. Comcast is already in the process of reclaiming all of its analog spectrum to apply toward HD programming and new services like Xcalibur. (See MSOs Must Bust Out Bandwidth for IP Video Leap [http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable] and Comcast Starts to Kiss Analog TV Goodbye [http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable].)

If the X3 is compatible with a future version of the X1 that includes real-time video transcoding, it's also been suggested that the X1 gateway could convert incoming QAM video into IP and shuttle those streams to the X3 using Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) .

But a pairing of the X1 and X3 isn't expected to happen for a while. An industry source says the first multi-room DVR implementation involving the X1 will team the hybrid device with the RNG150, an all-digital HD client box made by vendors such as Motorola Mobility Inc. (NYSE: MMI), with trials expected late this year.

The RNG150 (here's some data (PDF [http://media2.comcast.net/anon.comca...ser_Guide.pdf])) supports MPEG 2/4 and MoCA, and it sports an embedded Docsis modem. With the addition of new software and firmware, Comcast's RNG boxes can be "flipped" to become IP video-capable. (See Comcast 'RNG' Set-Tops Have IPTV Potential [http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable].)

It's not clear when Comcast will introduce the X3, though it's not expected until late 2012 or sometime next year. A person familiar with the project said several chip makers, including Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL), Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), Entropic Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ENTR) (now that it's acquired Trident's set-top chip business) and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), could be in the running to power the new all-IP box. The initial version of the X1 uses an Intel chipset. (See Comcast Confirms Xcalibur Partners [http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable] and Entropic Takes $55M Stab at Trident [http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable].)

Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable


Note: There are informative comments after the article on the web site.
post #662 of 838
Thread Starter 
Putting STB energy use in perspective and why we should switch to Energy Star STBs:

A Deeper Dive on Set-Tops, Power Use
April 2, 2012

Nothing like a TED quote to launch a deeper dive into recent news around energy-efficient set-top boxes.

It's from Donald Sadoway, a professor of materials chemistry at MIT, and it goes like this: If we're going to get this country out of its current energy situation, we can't just conserve our way out. We can't just drill our way out. We can't bomb our way out. We're going to do it the old-fashioned, American way. We're going to invent our way out, working together.

OK, Donald. Like it. Very tech-patriotic.

Here's the issue when it comes to set-top boxes and energy consumption: Invention is underway to introduce light- and deep-sleep modes for new set-top boxes, which is great. I'd go so far as totally great. But there exists a big backlog (in the double-digit millions) of deployed set-tops that went into homes long before technology options existed to reduce per-device energy consumption.

That means it's a big numbers issue, say the engine-room technologists focused on reducing power usage in CPE: A few watt hours per set-top box, times millions of them, is a big number.

Which is why the recent news about sleep modes is such a big step in the right direction. http://www.multichannel.com/article/..._CableLabs.php

Let's look at some numbers. Here in my lab, the cable set-top draws 32 watts when on, 30 watts when off. An absolute worst-case scenario is the old-style HD DVR, drawing 47 watts for 24 hours a day.

That older box can consume 1,128 watts per day, of which an estimated 282 watts involves the power associated with actually watching TV (assuming six hours/day of viewing). The remaining 846 watts is used to receive guide data, authorizations, firmware updates and other back-office activities.

Contrast that with current-model DVRs, drawing in the range of 28 watts, in service, and 22 watts when turned off - which cuts overall power consumption to 564 watts/day. That's half the power consumption. Translation: On/off modes can make a very big difference.

From a dollars-and-cents perspective, let's say power costs 12 cents per kilowatt hour (your mileage may vary). That means the new sleep-mode box burns about six cents per day, or just under $22 per year. (Double it for older boxes.)

So why not just ditch all those power-hungry deployed boxes, and flash cut to the new, power-mode beauties? Sorry. It's just not an option. Too expensive! Just as only some small, very-eco subset of us is motivated to replace the existing HDTV set with one that saves $70/year in power, so it is that no video service provider cable, satellite or telco is financially equipped to trash millions of deployed boxes.

Which brings us back to inventing our way out of the CPE power-draw issue. All together now!

post #663 of 838
Comcast, TWC Still Bullish On Interactive TV
Two Biggest Operators See New Opportunities for EBIF Platform

By Todd Spangler -- Multichannel News, 4/5/2012 11:54:08 AM

New York Canoe Ventures may have mothballed its interactive TV ad efforts, but Comcast and Time Warner Cable remain firmly committed to using cable's ITV technologies not only for advertising but also to boost viewer engagement with shows.

Execs from the two biggest U.S. cable operators spoke on a panel at the "Cable Interacts: Crossroads for Innovation" event Thursday at the Time Warner Center in Manhattan.

Today, Comcast is running applications based on CableLabs' Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format in more than 15 million homes in 50 markets, said Mike Ortman, Comcast vice president of content strategy and operations for video services. That will increase to about 18 million households in the next few months as the MSO activates EBIF in its Cisco Systems markets, he said.

"This isn't the future... this isn't a guess. This is what's actually happening," Ortman said.

Comcast is developing a "Smart App" EBIF template for programmers that will let cable networks more easily deliver interactive apps to the MSO's subscribers, across both low-end set-tops like the Motorola DCT 2000 and higher-end boxes. "The goal is simply to engage viewers," Ortman said. "It's not going to meet 100% of what everybody wants to do, but it will meet 90%."

However, if a new network seeking carriage on Comcast has developed an ITV app, that by itself won't necessarily factor into a decision to carry it, Ortman said, responding to an audience member's question: "It's going to have to be mutually beneficial."

Time Warner Cable, for its part, now has EBIF running on 10 million set-tops, representing 7.5 million homes. The operator is selling ITV ads in 30 markets, and has 50 of its 52 markets "lit up from technical point of view," said Chris Faw, senior vice president of operations for TWC Media Sales. The two markets that are pending for full EBIF support are Dallas and Los Angeles.

"We realize there are second screens... [and] we want to be part of that second-screen activity," Faw said. "But we still look at basic TV as what we are building on."

In February, ITV took a hit when Canoe -- the advanced advertising firm owned by the six biggest U.S. cable operators -- announced it was discontinuing its national interactive TV operations, citing lack of traction in the marketplace.

Asked by panel moderator Craig Leddy whether the concept of national ITV advertising was alive or dead, Lauder Partners managing partner Gary Lauder responded that it has "not yet fully been born."

In any case, interactive television continues among the individual MSOs: To date, Comcast has delivered more than 4.5 billion ITV impressions while Time Warner Cable has served 2.5 billion.

Comcast Spotlight's ITV campaigns have included about 575 request for information (RFI) spots, 450 video-on-demand telescoping units and 136 "remind record" campaigns, which prompt viewers to set a DVR recording for a show. RFI interaction rates ranged from 0.01%, for a Champion Windows spot offering a free installation estimate, up to 0.65% for free two-liter bottle of Crush soda, Ortman said.

TWC's interactive TV projects have included an EBIF app for Discovery's Oprah Winfrey Channel that let subs tune to the network. "We had OWN launched, and folks couldn't find it," Faw said. "We saw the tune-in go up."

For Comcast, a huge focus in 2012 will dynamic ad insertion for video-on-demand. That's also the exclusive product left for Canoe, which is relocating to Denver. "There are hundreds of millions of views that are not being monetized, and that's got to happen," Ortman said.

Faw said the main challenge with cable's advanced advertising initiatives is presenting all the different capabilities the MSOs offer in a unified way to marketers as "a meaningful portfolio... instead of alphabet soup."

Pat Lafferty, chief operating officer for North America at ad agency McCann Erickson, said inertia among media buyers has led to a resistance to innovative advertising technologies. But the good news, he said, is that "clients expect and want engagement at this point, largely because of social media."

Cablevision Systems also is expanding its interactive TV applications, through the ActiveVideo Networks platform, as well as working to deliver more services across multiple different devices.

"If a customer has [a given connected video device], we're looking to make sure we're bringing them the full range of our product portfolio," Rich Neill, Cablevision's senior vice president of software technology and development, said on the panel.

In addition, Cablevision will more widely expand its network DVR service in 2012: "That's a flagship for this year," Neill said.

With an eye toward the future, Cablevision is deploying IP-video-capable set-top boxes, Neill said. But at the same time "we have 3 to 4 million customers who aren't going away" and need to be supported as the MSO migrates toward IP-based video services.

The conference was produced by Leddy, who is president of consulting firm Interactive TV Works.

post #664 of 838
In hot places like Bakersfield anyone with central air conditioning hits the tier 4 electric rate of 50+ cents per kilowatt. So the marginal cost of adding an old style HD DVR is about 60 cents per day or $18 per month! 30 cents per day or $9 per monts for the new model.
post #665 of 838
Comcast may offer Web access through cable set-tops

By Steve Donohue
April 9, 2012

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) has developed technology that could allow subscribers to use cable set-tops to search the Web for video and buy products featured in TV programs with their remote controls, according to a patent application obtained by FierceCable.

Subscribers could use a virtual keyboard displayed on their TV screens to search Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and other websites with their remote controls, according to the Comcast patent. "Alternatively, voice recognition could be used to enter the search request text for the subscriber," Comcast writes in the patent application, which was published on April 5 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

For more than a decade, Comcast and other MSOs have resisted the idea of allowing cable subscribers to access the Web through a cable set-top. Deploying advanced digital set-tops and Web servers would require a significant investment, and letting cable subscribers access Web video through a set-top could also erode ratings for cable network programming. But competition from Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) and other online video providers could prompt Comcast to alter its strategy, and make it easier for subscribers to access content on the Web through a cable set-top.

"There is a need for an interactive television system that permits cable network subscribers not only to access freely other data networks but to access freely components located within the interactive television network," Comcast states in the patent, which was filed on Dec. 7. The patent is titled "interactive television network and method including content searching."

Comcast cites several search engines that could be connected to its interactive TV network, including Google, Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO), AOL and Dogpile.com. The company notes that it could also use the interactive TV network to allow subscribers to access content from other service providers, including pay-per-view and video-on-demand services.

The patent also shows how Comcast could allow subscribers to use its interactive TV platform to buy products featured in TV shows or ads with their remote controls. Verizon (NYSE: VZ) began offering its subscribers t-commerce capabilities late last year, letting subscribers watching History channel buy products with a few clicks of their remote controls.

Comcast also shows how it could use the interactive TV system to let subscribers conduct searches from multiple content sources, including TV listings, emails and voice mails. In the patent, it uses the example of a subscriber that searches for the word "Clinton" in email and phone messages.

Comcast may eventually be able to offer subscribers of its new X1 digital video service the ability to search the Web through their cable set-tops. The company has said that it will market X1 in several cities later this year. Comcast officials didn't respond to a request for comment about the patent application

post #666 of 838
Inside the Comcast RDK, Part Two

by Leslie Ellis
MultiChannel News
April 9, 2012

This week’s Translation steps further into the parts of the Comcast “RDK” (reference development kit), the software effort aimed at shaving a year off the time it takes to launch new cable gateways, hybrid set-tops and all-Internet protocol hardware and services.

Quick refresher: RDK is a bundle of software drivers and source code that gets preloaded into chips so manufacturers can develop product more quickly. That means apps, services and everything related goes more quickly. Quickly is the goal of RDK.

In essence, the RDK outlines a “now-and- next” list of software items, where “now” means what’s in today’s digital set-tops: A CableLabs “Reference Implementation” (RI) for OCAP and Tru2way, a Java Virtual Machine (JVM), a video proxy, media streamer and DTCP (Digital Transmission Copy Protection), for security.

The “next” parts of the RDK come from the IP (Internet-protocol) side of the world.

Recall that a huge driver for the RDK is to tap into the larger world of Internet developers instead of building complicated, cable-specific stuff.

For brevity, we’ll sidestep the familiar, “how things are now” components, which this column has covered every which way over the past decade.

Let’s look instead at the new stuff: Gstreamer, QT and webkit. We’ll start with “QT,” which people tend to say as a word: Cute. (No, really.) QT is a “windowing framework,” meaning it’s the traffic cop for everything that wants to get onto a screen.

And because nearly everything in software happens in stacks, the next one up in RDK is “webkit,” a browsing framework used under the hood of Safari, Chrome, and mobile environments like iOS (Apple) and Android (Google).

Including a browsing framework, notably, isn’t the equivalent of Internet browsing on TV. Rather, a browser framework knows how to do things like render HTML, parse incoming markup languages and access specific media types — so that a browser, as we know it, could work on top of it.

Then there’s Gstreamer — and here comes that “framework” again, this time for video. It’s what’s underneath the processing or raw audio and video files, so that they play out as intended. Handily, it’s a framework that plugs into multiple types of digital rights management (DRM).

In the olden days of right now, most of these activities are done on proprietary silicon that works differently, one chip vendor to the next. RDK exists to change that.


NOTE: The following is a link to her original article about Comcast's RDK, posted earlier in this thread:
post #667 of 838
Comcast access to the HBO Go app on Xbox 360 is live

Engadget - April 9, 2012

"After a short delay, Comcast subscribers are now on the list of users able to access the HBO Go streaming app via their Xbox 360s. Although some HBO content was already included in the Xfinity TV app, it wasn't all there however a change in the policy was rumored and then eventually confirmed late last week.

We're still left to ponder what exactly caused the hold up, and why there's still no hint of streaming access on Roku or Samsung.

The news was tweeted earlier from the HBO Go official account, you can head there and check out another one of those promotional teasers (http://youtu.be/0oVX9gmR4yI), or just take your Comcast account credentials to your Xbox and get to streaming."

post #668 of 838
Comcast to test IPTV network at MIT

By Steve Donohue
April 10, 2012

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) plans to test an IP-based pay TV platform on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The MSO still hasn't begun to deploy X1, a hybrid video product that will use gateway devices to combine cable programming from Comcast's QAM-based infrastructure with IP-based applications. But Comcast is already preparing for the day when it will use IP technology to distribute all of its cable programming, which could help it deliver content to connected TVs and mobile devices.

Comcast says it will expand the IP tests to employees later this year, but that it expects to deliver QAM-based cable programming "for the foreseeable future."

AT&T's (NYSE: T) U-verse TV product relies on IP-based platform. Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) video and collaboration group CTO Kip Compton said last month that he expects more cable MSOs to transition from QAM delivery to hybrid gateways, and that more operators will convert to an IP-based platform.

"We think this is a transition that is going to play out over several years and that a lot of traditional cable customers will leverage the hybrid technology first, and as they have more and more network devices deployed, start to transition to an IP transport on the cable plant itself," Compton told FierceCable.

For more:
- The Wall Street Journal has this story

NOTE 1: For this FierceCable story:

NOTE 2: After reading the Wall Street Journal article "Comcast Tests Same Technology Used by Online-Video Rivals" by JESSICA E. VASCELLARO, it became clear to me that the test at MIT is not the X1 (Xfinity Spectrum DVR). Instead, it delivers live TV service to any device that can connect to the Internet. The following excerpt by Comcast's president of converged products Sam Schwartz does apply to X1 (Xfinity Spectrum DVR):

The Augusta trial will be expanded to other markets and the service will be rolled out next year, according to Mr. Schwartz.
post #669 of 838
Comcast kicks off TiVo VoD rollout in San Francisco

By Steve Donohue
April 10, 2012

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) customers who own a TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO) Premiere DVR in San Francisco are the first in the nation to receive a software download that will allow subscribers use the TiVo box to navigate the MSO's Xfinity On Demand library.

TiVo has also been working with Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR) and other cable MSOs to let cable subscribers that buy a TiVo DVR in retail outlets to use the DVR to access cable VoD programming, but has been faced challenges integrating with cable systems. Charter recently began testing TiVo, but said its rollout--originally scheduled for the first half of 2012--would be delayed until later this year.

"We now know based on our testing that we will require some further field testing, and we're not going to deliver that product to our customers until we know it's fully baked and right," Charter EVP Donald Detampel said on the MSO's fourth-quarter earnings call in February.

TiVo said its Comcast rollout will expand to additional cities in the next several weeks, but it did not say which markets will support Xfinity On Demand through the TiVo Premiere DVR.

The TiVo integration with Comcast in San Francisco will allow cable subscribers who buy a Premiere DVR to access content from Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), Hulu Plus, Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN), YouTube, Pandora and other Web content.

"TiVo Premiere has always offered the best of Xfinity TV channels with the most popular Web services, and we are excited to now integrate the Xfinity On Demand library for San Francisco subscribers, delivering a true one-stop shop for at-home entertainment," TiVo VP of retail sales Doug Bieter said in a prepared statement.

post #670 of 838
Comcast Tests Network DVR in Boston

April 13, 2012
Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is conducting a small, technical trial of a network DVR that closely mimics what Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) has already deployed to its customers, Light Reading Cable has learned.

And when we say small trial, we're talking tiny small. The Boston test, says an industry source, has fewer than a dozen people on it during the early phases.

The test, though limited, is an indication that Comcast is giving the network DVR idea a serious look. While there's no guarantee the MSO will launch such a product in the near term, it's not a huge surprise that it's gotten this far. Comcast executives have expressed interest in testing a network DVR since last June's Cable Show in Chicago. (See Comcast Explores Network DVRs [http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable] and Comcast to Run Small Net-DVR Trial [http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable].)

One source described 2012 as the "proof of concept" year for Comcast's project, and the MSO will vet all the technical angles before it tries to do anything more.

"They are going slow," says a person who's familiar with the Boston test. "It's more about affirming the technical and operational feasibility of deploying a network DVR."

Comcast is said to be emulating Cablevision's remote storage-DVR (RS-DVR) architecture, and one source notes that Cablevision is cooperating with Comcast on the Boston trial. Comcast declined to comment about the project.

Cablevision's RS-DVR architecture requires customers to set up their own recording requests. The system then writes and stores individual copies that can only be accessed by the subscribers that made them. So if 25,000 subscribers set up a recording for Game of Thrones, the RS-DVR has to make 25,000 individual copies.

It's not super-efficient from a storage perspective, but it's currently the only way to sidestep existing copyright laws. It's also considered to be more power- and cost-efficient than deploying set-tops outfitted with local hard drives. The all-IP "X3" HD client box said to be on Comcast's roadmap is the kind of device that could take advantage of a network DVR. (See Supremes Stand Clear of RS-DVR Case [http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable] and Comcast Sizes Up All-IP Set-Top [http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable].)

And Comcast isn't alone. Other service providers and suppliers, including Aereo Inc. and EchoStar Corp. LLC (Nasdaq: SATS), are following Cablevision's technical lead as they deploy or plan their own network DVR products. (See EchoStar Sets Sights on a Network DVR [http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable], Can Aereo Survive a Broadcaster Assault? [http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable] and EchoStar Readies Over-the-Top Video Play [http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable].)

New Charter Communications Inc. CEO Tom Rutledge championed the network DVR cause when he was the COO of Cablevision, but that sort of product does not appear to be on Charter's list of short-term priorities. (See Charter Keeps RS-DVR on Sidelines [http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable].)

post #671 of 838
The following posts are from Comcast's Ted Hodgins, Sr. Director, Video Product Development - Navigation, in Media & Entertainment, "New Guide for Scientific Atlanta Cable Boxes" blog:


They contain information about the new Comcast guides for the SA/Cisco areas.


Hi Ted,

I know the current guide for the SA/Cisco areas is called S25 and the guide for Cisco AnyRoom DVR functionality is called On-Screen Guide 2.0. What is the name of the guide that will be released this summer for the SA STBs?

Will Cisco RNG STBs get this guide or will they skip it and only get On-Screen Guide 2.0?



Russ | April 17, 2012 4:05 PM



Hello Russ. The S25 name you referenced for this guide is not a customer-facing name but yes that is a name we use internally when referring to this version of the guide. You can see the S25p3 naming in the guide configuration menu. The next version of the guide coming out over the summer is labeled internally as S26.

For others, here is some inside baseball: The version number (S25, S26) of the on-screen guide for your cable box can be found in the guide's setup menu.

Press the Menu button twice on the silver Comcast remote control, select Setup, then Cable Box setup, arrow down to Configuration and 'Select to display' and press OK/Select.

The line immediately underneath the Review Configuration header will show you the version of the guide currently on your cable box. The first few characters (S25p3) indicate the guide code number. A change in guide code number on that box would indicate an update to the guide.

Don't worry. You will hear about the new guide from us in advance in a few different ways (other than having to constantly check your guide code number via the above)!

What area is getting which guide and when depends a lot on time, geography and hardware (cable box type) with a few moving parts to make it interesting.

To try and put it simply, most all Scientific-Atlanta branded cable boxes will be receiving this new guide (S26) regardless of where you happen to live. Some smaller quantities of older models of SA boxes (about 1% of our deployed boxes in SA-Cisco footprint) will get a guide update without the iTV applications.

In some areas (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Minnesota and New Mexico), we plan to deliver On-Screen Guide 2.0 this year to the Cisco RNG series (RNG 100, 150 and 200) of cable boxes. Some of these areas may get S26 on their Cisco box first before getting On-Screen Guide 2.0. Other areas may go directly to On-Screen Guide 2.0 on newly deployed Cisco RNG cable boxes.

The deployment sequence, customer communication plan and employee training plan will take that into consideration as each market will be at a different stage of the On-Screen Guide 2.0 process.

Other SA/Cisco areas that are in states that I have not listed above are not currently targeted for On-Screen Guide 2.0 this year and some of those areas (that I have not listed) may get our On-Screen Guide 3.0 (also called the X1 guide) this year or next year.

The long term plan is to get all of our newest cable boxes (regardless of hardware manufacturer or geography) onto a common guide starting in 2013 to provide a consistent experience.

Ted Hodgins replied to comment from Russ | April 18, 2012 2:08 PM

post #672 of 838
The following posts are from Comcast's Ted Hodgins, Sr. Director, Video Product Development - Navigation, in Media & Entertainment, "New Guide for Scientific Atlanta Cable Boxes" blog:


Ths is the first time that I hae seen the customer facing issues that should be resolved in the next SA/Cisco area guide (see underlined section).


Based on your recent information here, am I to assume that Vermont, which is not on the list of several states scheduled to receive guide 2.0 this summer, means we will have to wait another year to see this upgrade and fix some of the remaining issues we are having with S25? Please clarify.

ButchSS | April 19, 2012 9:54 AM



Hello ButchSS. To be clear, all Cisco and Scientific-Atlanta cable boxes in all areas will be getting some sort of guide update and improvements starting over the summer.

Some of the new features that are included in the summer release are listed below:

myDVR Manager: From the internet and the Xfinity TV app, customers can: set recordings, view/modify scheduled recordings, view completed recordings, modify series priority lists, etc.

Caller ID to the TV See who's calling, right from your TV and PC! Comcast Universal Caller ID takes the guesswork out of incoming calls. http://www.comcast.net/callerid

Xfinity TV Application: The ability to use your iPad to change channels.

HSN Shop-by-Remote: A convenient, new way to make HSN purchases simply by using your remote. http://www.comcast.net/newguide/iTV_...emote_0110.pdf

Request for Info: Know more, save more! Introducing an easy way to request valuable coupons and info from advertisers simply by using your remote.

Ready Remind and Ready Record: Now you can conveniently set program reminders or recordings directly from certain TV show and movie advertisements.

Several customer facing issues are also resolved in this release, including the following:

- DVR Boxes losing functionality of 15 second rewind and 5 minute skip back after being online for a significant period of time.

- DVR over-recording issues with New and Repeat episodes

- RNG 200s only: When watching live TV, pressing rewind may rewind all the way to the beginning of the buffer and bring the customer back to live TV.

- RNG 200s only: Audio /video occasionally cuts in and out after swapping channels.

Some areas will also have On-Screen Guide 2.0 available. Vermont is not currently targeted to receive On-Screen Guide 2.0 in 2012.

Ted Hodgins replied to comment from ButchSS | April 19, 2012 11:08 AM

post #673 of 838
The following posts are from Comcast's Ted Hodgins, Sr. Director, Video Product Development - Navigation, in Media & Entertainment, "New Guide for Scientific Atlanta Cable Boxes" blog:


They contain follow up information about the new Comcast guides for the SA/Cisco areas.


Hi Ted,

Thanks for the information.

"Other areas may go directly to On-Screen Guide 2.0 on newly deployed Cisco RNG cable boxes",
will Comcast also deploy On-Screen Guide 2.0 to identical existing Cisco RNG cable boxes in that area at the same time?



Russ replied to comment from Ted Hodgins | April 18, 2012 4:27 PM



@Russ, the changing over of a Cisco RNG cable box in a customer's home that is already running the current on-screen guide (the blue guide, S25 or S26) to our On-Screen Guide 2.0 can certainly be done. However, it is a fairly unique and involved technical process that needs additional attention on our end in order to provide a very smooth customer experience.

So it's very likely that won't happen at the same time as an area starts with On-Screen Guide 2.0. The plan for Texas is (after a yet-to-be-announced date later this year) that all newly deployed Cisco RNG boxes would be delivered with On-Screen-Guide 2.0.

Ted Hodgins replied to comment from Russ | April 20, 2012 4:36 PM

post #674 of 838
Comcast loses 39,000 video subs in Q1 2012

By Steve Donohue
May 2, 2012

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) said Wednesday that it lost 39,000 video subscribers in the first quarter, widening its loss compared to the 17,000 basic cable customers that it lost in the fourth quarter of 2011. But the MSO's subscriber loss was similar to the 39,000 video customers that it lost during the same period last year.

The nation's largest cable MSO continues to post strong gains in high-speed Internet and phone subscribers, picking up 439,000 cable modem and 164,000 voice customers. It added a total of 565,000 combined video, high-speed Internet and voice customers.

The average Comcast subscriber spent $143.40 monthly during the first quarter, up 7.8 percent compared to the first quarter of 2011. Comcast attributed the increased subscriber revenue to rate increases and more customers bundling multiple products.

Revenue jumped 22.7 percent to $14.9 billion, and operating income increased 24 percent to $2.8 billion. It posted earnings per share of 45 cents, up 32.4 percent compared to this time last year.

Revenue at its NBCUniversal unit jumped 18 percent to $4.6 billion, with Comcast attributing some of the gains to NBC's broadcast of Super Bowl 46 in February. Revenue from its cable networks group, which includes USA Network, MSNBC, CNBC and NBC Sports Network, jumped 5.8 percent to $2.02 billion.

For more:
- see the earnings release [http://links.mkt1985.com/ctt?kn=29&m...2S0&mt=1&rt=0]

post #675 of 838
Comcast to launch X1 next generation video service in 'major market'

By Steve Donohue
May 2, 2012

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) will launch its X1 next generation digital cable service in a major market within the next few weeks, executives said on the company's first-quarter earnings call Wednesday.

X1 is a cloud-based video programming service that will offer personalized TV recommendations, apps for Facebook, Pandora Internet Radio and other apps, in addition to live TV and video-on-demand programming. While Comcast executives didn't say where they'll flip the switch on X1 first, its Atlanta system is a likely target. Comcast has been testing X1 on its Augusta, Ga., system, which is about 150 miles east of Atlanta.

Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit said the MSO will expand X1 to "hundreds of thousands of homes" this year. "It's dependent on hardware primarily," Smit added, suggesting that the availability of set-tops and cloud servers capable of delivering X1 is impacting the rollout.

Pace (LSE: PIC) has supplied Comcast with a hybrid set-top for its tests in Augusta. Comcast didn't say which vendors will support the expanded rollout of X1, but Smit said the product will be able to be delivered on other advanced digital video set-tops and on COAM (customer owned and maintained) devices such as the Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Xbox 360.

Comcast reported Tuesday that it lost 39,000 subscribers [http://links.mkt1985.com/ctt?kn=109&...2S0&mt=1&rt=0] during the first quarter. CEO Brian Roberts told analysts that interactive products such as X1 will help Comcast attract and retain subscribers in the long term.

Pointing to Comcast's ability to grow video-on-demand usage to 400 million views [http://links.mkt1985.com/ctt?kn=127&...2S0&mt=1&rt=0] each month, coupled with new products such as X1, apps for Apple's iPad and other mobile devices, streaming video service Streampix [http://links.mkt1985.com/ctt?kn=79&m...2S0&mt=1&rt=0] and personalized [http://links.mkt1985.com/ctt?kn=186&...2S0&mt=1&rt=0] program guides, Roberts said he was bullish on how innovation will drive future growth. "It's a different experience. If you really believe we're headed to an interactive world and each user--not even each household has their own personal choices and their own control--I don't know that there's a better platform out there than what we've been building, and it's starting to really kick in," Roberts said.

Also worth noting from Comcast's Q1 earnings call:

* Smit attributed much of Comcast's subscriber losses to rate increases that impacted 62 of the households that it serves. The rate increases resulted in more customer service calls and increased subscriber churn, Smit said.

* Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis said Comcast expects to win approval from regulators of its spectrum and marketing pacts with Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ). "I think both parties are very optimistic that we'll get the deal closed," he said.

* Comcast's Xfinity TV mobile apps have generated more than 5 million downloads. While apps for Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad and iPhone allow subscribers to watch live TV on the devices within their homes, Smit said Comcast subscribers use the apps mostly for the tools, including the ability to search for content or use a mobile device as a remote control.

* Comcast hasn't expanded its tests of MyTV Choice low-cost programming markets beyond its three test markets in Seattle, Connecticut, and Charleston, S.C.

* Xfinity Home is available in 73 percent of Comcast's footprint, and subscriber churn for the home security and monitoring product is "very low," Smit said.

For more:
- see Comcast's Q1 earnings release [http://links.mkt1985.com/ctt?kn=29&m...2S0&mt=1&rt=0]

post #676 of 838
Thread Starter 
Comcast's X1 to Fly First in Boston?
May 2, 2012 | Jeff Baumgartner

Boston will be the first major market to deploy the X1, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s next-generation, cloud-based video platform, industry sources tell Light Reading Cable.

Neil Smit, the president and CEO of Comcast's cable unit, said on the MSO's first-quarter earnings call Wednesday that Comcast plans to launch the X1 in one "major" market in the second quarter before introducing it to other systems later in the year. (See Comcast to Swing Xcalibur Wide in 2012 and Comcast IDs Cloud TV Product as 'X1' .)

Smit didn't say where or precisely when the product would be launched, but multiple sources say the MSO has been field testing the platform in the Boston area and that the intention is to launch X1 there sometime in May. Comcast declined to comment about its X1 market deployment plans.

Augusta, Ga., has served as the site of a small, technical trial site of X1, previously referred to as Xcalibur, but, according to a source, the new service won't be launched in the Atlanta region until later this summer, perhaps by July. Comcast execs reiterated Wednesday that they expect to have X1 rolled out to "hundreds of thousands" of customers this year.

The X1 box, made by Pace plc , is a hybrid QAM/IP gateway that will feature a new cloud-based user interface, which should be simpler to navigate than the current grid system, and applications developed by Comcast alongside some limited apps from third parties (the Augusta trial, for example, features an app for Pandora Media Inc. ). It's also believed that the broader Xcalibur project, along with Comcast's rollout of Docsis 3.0, will set the table for the MSO's broader IP video migration.

Comcast has an all-IP client box called the X3 on the roadmap, but a source says the first multi-room DVR implementation for the X1 will involve the RNG150, an all-digital HD client box that supports Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) for high-speed home networking.

If Comcast indeed launches X1 in Boston later this month, the timing is perfect to show off the platform to the industry. Boston is the site of The Cable Show, set for May 21-23. It also happens to be a market where Comcast faces off with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s FiOS TV service.

post #677 of 838
Comcast to expand TiVo VOD integration to Boston

May 3, 2012
By Steve Donohue

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) will soon let subscribers in the Boston area who buy a TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO) Premiere DVR in retail outlets to use the DVRs to access its Xfinity On Demand programming library, a TiVo spokesman said.

The move will give Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit another new product to tout when he takes the stage at The Cable Show convention later this month in Boston. Smit is the co-chair of this year's convention.

Comcast launched the integrated TiVo product on its San Francisco system in April. By integrating its VOD platform with the TiVo Premiere, Comcast can let subscribers access over-the-top-video content from Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), Hulu, YouTube and other providers.

"Given the successful rollout, we are excited to announce that Boston TiVo Premiere and Comcast customers will be the next to receive this feature," a TiVo spokesman said in an email.

Boston also may be one of the first Comcast markets to get access to its new X1 next generation digital cable service, which will allow subscribers to access personalized TV listings and interactive TV applications. Comcast said Wednesday that it will soon launch X1, which it is testing in Augusta, Georgia, in next few weeks.

post #678 of 838
The following posts are from Comcast's Ted Hodgins, Sr. Director, Video Product Development - Navigation, in Media & Entertainment, "New Guide for Scientific Atlanta Cable Boxes" blog:


Two additional issues to be resolved in the S26 guide scheduled for release this Summer. This was a follow up post. See http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...9#post21927919


Hi Ted,

Will the following two issues be resolved in the S26 guide?

1) The Not Authorized messages that are displayed even though the channel is authorized (You mentioned that firmware changes were required to completely fix this).

2) Pass Through using an HDMI cable.



Russ replied to comment from Ted Hodgins | April 21, 2012 1:19 AM



@Russ, apologies for the delay in responding.

We have seen significantly reduced instances of the unintended Not Authorized screen as part of the software patch that was distributed to all of our SA-Cisco locations.

We have also worked with Cisco to make necessary firmware changes in the upcoming guide release. These changes have been shown to eliminate the unintended Not Authorized occurrences that have been observed.

The firmware update included in this upcoming release also has the HDMI cables working very well with the HD Pass-Through feature.

Ted Hodgins replied to comment from Russ | May 3, 2012 4:49 PM

post #679 of 838
Comcast subscribers score access to WatchESPN app

FierceCable - By Steve Donohue - May 8, 2012

Four months after Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) struck a broad multiplatform distribution deal with ESPN parent Disney (NYSE: DIS), the MSO said Tuesday that its Xfinity TV subscribers can now access live ESPN content through the WatchESPN app for Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch devices.

Disney has already struck deals with Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), Bright House and Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) FiOS TV that allow those multichannel providers to pitch WatchESPN to their subscribers. Time Warner Cable touted the app in a Super Bowl spot commercial that it ran in February.

Comcast and Disney said that Xfinity subscribers will get access to similar apps later this year from Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior.

For more:
- See this release [http://links.mkt1985.com/ctt?kn=195&...yS0&mt=1&rt=0]

post #680 of 838
Comcast finds way to deliver ads to subscribers who skip commercials on DVR

From FierceCable - By Steve Donohue - May 11, 2012

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) has developed technology that would allow the nation's largest cable operator to deliver advertising to subscribers who skip commercials contained in TV shows recorded on a DVR, according to a U.S. patent application obtained by FierceCable.

Subscribers who hit fast-forward, pause and other trick-mode buttons on their remotes would receive an alternate ad displayed in the center of their TV screen or by making the alternate ad partially transparent, according to the patent.

Comcast details a strategy for targeting alternative ads to a subscriber who skips commercials based on demographics and the subscriber's viewing habits, including "historical choices made by the recipient whether to skip or watch previous alternate content."

Comcast also says networks would be able to charge advertisers a premium for the right to deliver alternative ads to a subscriber who skips commercials in TV shows contained in a DVR. The MSO notes that it could also sell advertising displayed while a subscriber uses fast forward to other media buyers.

"The content provider may charge the advertiser an extra fee to play the alternate advertising during fast-forward operation," Comcast states in the 20-page patent application. "In other embodiments, however, the content provider may sell those trick mode advertising avails to other advertisers," the company writes.

Comcast details several methods for delivering alternative ads to subscribers who skip fast forward. One approach would be to use a DVR containing multiple tuners to download alternative ads to a subscriber's set-top before he begins watching a program. "This can be done behind the scenes without the user's knowledge," Comcast chief scientist Dan Holden writes in the patent application. Holden is named as the inventor on the application, which was published Thursday by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Comcast may be able to boost ad revenue by selling advertisers multiple alternative ads, and using the trick modes to incent subscribers to watch other ads or previews for movies or TV shows. "The alternate advertising trick file can be configured to tempt the consumer to take further actions," Comcast writes on the patent application. "Alternately, when the consumer selects double rewind, the consumer may be presented with another advertisement that includes an instruction to select yet another trick mode in order to receive some benefit such as a prize or another preview or the second half of the same preview. The possibilities are endless," the company adds.

Conmcast officials wouldn't comment on when the technology may be deployed. "While we regularly file patent applications for a variety of technologies, we cannot comment on their potential use or speculate on whether those technologies would be part of any future products or services," spokeswoman Jenni Moyer said Friday.

Comcast and other cable MSOs have increased revenue from digital cable subscribers by leasing customers DVRs, but the devices have made it much easier for viewers to skip commercials, which hurts programmers. While it's not clear how soon Comcast may attempt to deliver alternative ads to subscribers who skip commercials, that strategy could help both operators and programmers deliver more relevant ads to subscribers and offer the industry a new source for ad revenue.

See article ---> http://www.fiercecable.com/story/com...ource=internal

See editorial (Comcast vs. Dish) Advertising Stratgies ---> http://www.fiercecable.com/story/com...ource=internal
Also, see next post.

See patent application diagram slideshow ---> http://www.fiercecable.com/slideshow...ource=internal
post #681 of 838
Comcast, Dish pursue radically different advertising strategies

From FierceCable - By Steve Donohue - May 11, 2012

If every multichannel provider were to deploy DVRs containing technology similar to the "Auto Hop" [http://www.fiercecable.com/story/dis...vr/2012-05-10] commercial skipper that Charlie Ergen's Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) unveiled Thursday, there would no longer be ad-supported programming on television.

Auto Hop, which is only available to Dish subscribers that buy one of its new Hopper multiroom DVRs, is a gimmick.

It only works for primetime programming recorded from the Big Four broadcast networks, automatically removing all of the commercials.

Dish, like every other pay TV distributor, receives two minutes of local advertising inventory per hour to sell to advertisers from networks such as ESPN, USA Network and FX. Dish isn't making it easier for subscribers to avoid watching commercials from any of the cable networks supply it with advertising to sell to media buyers. It's only choosing networks that don't supply it with ad inventory.

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and other cable operators are pursuing a much different approach. Rather than find ways to make it easier to skip commercials, cable MSOs are focused on delivering targeted advertising to viewers, including commercials that a viewer would be interested in watching.

On the same day that Dish was touting "Auto Hop," the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Comcast [http://www.fiercecable.com/story/com...vr/2012-05-11] that contains a blueprint for delivering more relevant advertising to subscribers that skip commercials on a DVR.

Instead of focusing its efforts on a way to eliminate commercials from programming, Comcast has come up with a way to deliver alternative ads to subscribers with DVRs that hit the fast-forward button on their remote controls when a commercial appears. One of the methods the company could use would involve tracking which commercials a subscriber skips, and which ads a subscriber watches, and gauging type of products a subscriber would be interested in seeing advertised. (Here's a slideshow [http://www.fiercecable.com/slideshow...tising-patent] of the patent application.)

Technology vendors such as Invidi are already pitching multichannel providers targeted advertising products that could allow media buyers to target specific neighborhoods, homes, and even individual set-tops within those homes. Comcast's approach could take targeted advertising to another level, by delivering ads to subscribers based on their viewing habits.

Dish may be able to create some snappy ad campaigns that tout Auto Hop and its ability to eliminate ads from primetime shows on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. But it's not a product that will prompt a pay TV subscriber to drop their current provider for Dish. It doesn't take much effort for a viewer to skip commercials--most distributors offer subscribers a "quick skip" button on their remote controls that lets a viewer jump 30 seconds ahead in programming stored on a DVR.

Ergen, Dish's founder, is a visionary. But "Auto Hop" is a short-sighted idea. Rather than attempt to remove advertising, he should focus his efforts on delivering content that subscribers would be interested in watching. -- Steve

post #682 of 838
The following posts are from Comcast's Ted Hodgins, Sr. Director, Video Product Development - Navigation, in Media & Entertainment, "New Guide for Scientific Atlanta Cable Boxes" blog.

Use the following methods to determine if and when you wil get the new Comcast SA/Cisco Guide S26 update. Note: These were posted earlier this week in Ted's blog.


Hi Ted,

What I believe is frustrating to most of the Cisco/SA customers is the lack of a plan, communication and execution. I have been trying for over a year to find out what the plan is. If you tell us its 2014, then it is 2014. Its the lack of a plan and communication that is frustrating. How hard is it to put a plan together and publish?


tom | May 6, 2012 8:42 PM



Hello Tom, my post below [Note: Link to a similar post http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...#post21927919] from May 1st outlines at a high level the plan that we have for our customers that have Scientific-Atlanta and Cisco branded cable boxes. We are scheduled to start delivering additional features and functionality over the summer of 2012.

Better communication is something that you will see as we get closer to delivering these new features in each area.

Typically notifications and announcements around products, channels and services are done via a combination of bill messages, e-mails, bill inserts, TV commercials, direct mail, box messages as well as this site [Note: continue to check Ted's blog].

Ted Hodgins replied to comment from tom | May 9, 2012 11:27 AM

post #683 of 838
One wonders how many will leave Comcast, if they can no longer FF through ads, and will increased ad revenue make up for it?

Much of what I watch is not commercial, but I do watch a lot of news. Some of that, I record on my DVD recorder, because I prefer it's superior playback skills. I may have to go to recording all of it on the DVDR, but I would miss the HD. Just another reason Comcast sux.
post #684 of 838
Why am I not surprised about all this concern about our ability to skip commercials?

Although I'm no fan of my cable TV service provider, nor the $160/mo I pay for HDTV, Hi-Speed Internet and nation-wide phone service with voice mail ...... I still remember very well growing up in the 1950s and 1960s with only black and white "free" TV on 4 channels (CBS, NBC, ABC plus one independent local channel), rotary phones, no answering machines or voice mail, no video recorders, no cell phones and no internet.

IMHO, we've all become too spoiled and too entitled to free this and free that ..... plus every young kid now is supposed to automatically grow up without any special effort and "become a winner".

Just my opinion, from an older perspective as a now-retired hard working "winner" on easy-street.
post #685 of 838
Way older - people don't want to go back to those days for good reason. Skipping commercials has nothing to do with 'spoiled kids' (but enjoy your rant), it's just common sense for digital recording and playback technology.

I don't care what Comcast does to make their crappy DVRs even crappier because Cablecard means I don't have to use their junk.

I enjoy reading this topic, btw, but am always amused that most of what is posted here never sees the light of day for the customer base. Comcast has never been known for innovation, just like most cableCos.
post #686 of 838
If the item or concept does make it to the customer, it takes years, for example X1 (Xfinity Spectrum DVR) or Comcast VOD working on TiVo hardware. TiVo software on third-party hardware won't be expanded outside of the New England area and will probably be phased out in the future.
post #687 of 838
Comcast launches Skype to the TV; wins patent for set-tops that can deliver video calls

From FierceCable - By Steve Donohue - May 16, 2012

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) on Wednesday said it is allowing subscribers in Boston and Seattle to make Skype video calls through the TV, and that it will soon expand its Skype-on-Xfinity service to several other markets.

Comcast first demonstrated the Skype service last June at The Cable Show convention in Chicago.

The product, which will cost digital cable subscribers $9.95 monthly, relies on an adapter box and video camera that are attached to cable set-tops.

Comcast said that the Skype service will this week also launch in eight other markets. It is the first pay-TV provider to integrate Skype with its digital video offering. The MSO plans to demonstrate the product at The Cable Show convention in Boston next week, spokeswoman Jenni Moyer said.

The Skype announcement came one day after Comcast won a patent for a set-top terminal that can deliver video calls. The patent, titled "advanced set-top terminal having a video call feature," describes how Comcast would pause live TV programming when a video phone call is received.

For more:
- see the news release

- see the patent

See article ---> http://www.fiercecable.com/story/com...ource=internal
post #688 of 838
Originally Posted by RussB View Post

The product, which will cost digital cable subscribers $9.95 monthly, relies on an adapter box and video camera that are attached to cable set-tops.

Huh? What's the target demographic? Is is grandpa and grandma who don't have Skype on their computer?

Skype is free, but this is another $120 per year going out the door.
post #689 of 838
Yep, it's seniors. Pretty ballsy to try and charge $10 a month for a camera and remote that probably costs $20, but I'm sure some folks won't care.
post #690 of 838
Sounds like you can get it without internet service, so in that case it isn't a horrible deal for someone that would like to skype but have no use for a computer (older generations/technophobes). $10/month is a lot cheaper than the $40-50/month for comcast internet plus the cost of a computer, camera, etc.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: HDTV Technical
AVS › AVS Forum › HDTV › HDTV Technical › Comcast Technology Topic