Cable Operators

Comcast i-Guide Goes Wide

5/24/2010 10:58 AM Eastern

Comcast will finally bring the
i-Guide interactive program guide to its
Cisco Systems markets starting in June — a
project more than three years in the making
that exemplifies the complexity of upgrading
software for millions of set-tops.

The i-Guide version “S25,” developed by
the GuideWorks joint venture between Comcast
and Rovi, will first be available in parts
of Connecticut, where Comcast has already
been testing it with employees. The MSO will
widen deployment to other Cisco/SA markets
through the rest of 2010, spokeswoman
Ellen Mellody said.

The IPG, which has been available for Motorola
for since 2005, will replace the Ciscosupplied
SARA guide in those markets.

Enhancements in S25 include a TV grid
color-coded by genre (e.g., green is sports);
a faster-loading video-on-demand menu; a
“Quick Menu” for shortcuts; more detailed
program information; expanded parentalcontrol
options; and multiple favorites lists.

But the SA i-Guide lacks some of the advanced
features currently available on the
latest version for the Motorola platform,
A28, which is currently deployed to about
60% of Comcast’s Motorola footprint. Those
include Web-based DVR scheduling; an onscreen
keyboard designed to make typing in
searches faster; the ability to search and set
recordings by actor, director or keyword; and
interactive-TV features such as the ability to
set program reminders or recordings directly
from certain TV show and movie promos.

Previously, Comcast had been aiming to
get a version of i-Guide for Cisco/SA set-tops
before the end of 2007. Why the delay? “The
company realigned its priorities and we are
rolling it now,” Mellody said. Comcast is aiming
to deliver features comparable to A28 for
SA markets in 2011, she said.

About 80% of Comcast’s systems are Motorola,
and the rest are Cisco/SA based.

Meanwhile, Comcast has completed integration
and testing — in conjunction with interactive-
TV developer Itaas — of an Enhanced
TV Binary Interchange Format user agent for
Cisco/SA boxes that works with i-Guide.

On a separate track, Comcast is continuing
to develop and test “Buckeye,” the code name
for its IPG optimized for 16-by-9 high-definition
TVs. That guide, expected to enter trials in late
2010 with deployments next year, is supposed
to include advanced search and discovery capabilities
across TV listings, VOD and DVR recordings,
among other enhancements.

The i-Guide rollout for Comcast’s Cisco/SA
markets was announced by Ted Hodgins, senior
director of video product development
for navigation, in a corporate blog posting
last week.

Comcast has set up a section of its Web
site — at comcast.net/meetyourguide — with
more information for customers who have
Cisco/SA boxes. In addition, subscribers will
receive a booklet in the mail explaining the
new features.

CISCO COUNTRY

Markets in Comcast’s Cisco/SA footprint:

North Central Region: Hamden, Conn.; Londonderry, N.H.; Brunswick, Maine;
Plymouth, Mass.

South Region: West Palm Beach, Fla.; Jackson, Miss.; Memphis, Tenn.; Shreveport, La.;
Houston; Brunswick, Ga.; Cape Coral, Fla.; Charleston, S.C.; Naples, Fla.; Sarasota, Fla.

East Region: Pittsburgh; York, Pa.; Scranton, Pa.; Cherry Hill, N.J.; Monmouth/Ocean
Counties, N.J.; Alexandria/Arlington, Va.; Chesterfield, Va.; Dover, Del.; Baltimore;
Howard/Harford County, Md.; Prince William County, Va.; Spotsylvania, Va.; Staunton,
Va.; Troutville, Va.; Westminster, Md.

West Region: Minneapolis; Albuquerque, N.M.
SOURCE: Comcast