If cable technology is on your agenda at The Cable Show, you’ll be busy, whether you’re building apps, engineering the next-generation cable-access network or getting ready to take TV Everywhere to another level. To help you boil it down, here are some of the hot topics we’ll be tracking at this year’s show in Washington, D.C., as well as some “must-see” sessions to put on your schedule:
Comcast’s Reference Design Kit (RDK)
Last year’s show was a coming out of sorts for the Comcast Reference Design Kit, a pre-integrated bundle of software for IP-only and hybrid QAM/IP set-tops and gateways aimed at accelerating the product development cycle. Comcast has already attracted dozens of vendors as RDK licensees, but if the aim is to turn the RDK into a broader industry effort, it will need other MSOs to jump in and adopt it.
Don’t miss: “RDK in Action,” Wednesday, June 12 at Imagine Park (Booth 2133) at 1:45 p.m.
Cable has the technical ability now to deliver downstream bursts of 1 Gigabit per second, thanks to new DOCSIS 3.0 modems that can bond up to 32 downstream channels. The broadband bar will be raised with DOCSIS 3.1, an emerging, more efficient platform that will put cable in the position to offer multi-gigabit speeds and delay expensive fiber-to-the- home upgrades.
• “CTOs on Devices, DOCSIS and Deployments.” Monday, June 10, at 2 p.m. (Room 207B).
• “Widening the Pipe: The Evolution in Cable Access Architecture and Infrastructure.” Tuesday, June 11, at 3:30 p.m. (Room 207A).
Search and Recommendation
Cable operators already offer hundreds of live channels and thousands of on-demand choices. That’s nice, but it also presents consumers with a paradox of choice. To help users find those needles in the haystack, vendors and MSOs will be showing off a range of video search and recommendation products, including offerings that rely on voice commands and build profiles based on individual tastes and preferences.
• “Guide Garden” on Monday, June 10, at 1 p.m. at Imagine Park (Booth 2133).
• “Getting Personal: New (and Cool) Approaches to Content Recommendation,” Monday, June 10, at 3:30 p.m. (Room 202B).
• General Session, Tuesday, June 11, at 10 a.m. Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts is expected to offer a glimpse at the “X2,” a new version of Comcast’s X1 cloud-based UI that will include personal recommendation features.
The general idea of authenticated TV Everywhere services might seem like old hat by now, but there’s still plenty of ground to be blazed as MSOs and programmers look to deliver more content to more screens while making the sign-in process less of a chore for consumers. And those early efforts are likewise giving guidance on how to improve these products in the months ahead.
Don’t miss: “Authenticate Me, Baby: Consumer Behavior in the TV Everywhere Era.” Monday, June 10, at 2 p.m. ET (Room 202B).
With dynamic ad insertion for VOD starting to hit its deployment stride, the next key area of focus for advanced advertising is multiscreen and authenticated TV Everywhere services. At this year’s show, expect to hear more about how cable is setting the stage for targeted advertising for tablets and other mobile devices following its initial focus on set-tops and the TV screen.
Don’t miss: “Redefining the Zone: Cable Advertising’s March to Multiscreen Addressability,” Monday, June 10, at 3:30 p.m. (Room 201).
TV makers are betting that UltraHD, a format that offers four times the resolution of traditional HDTV, will push the needle at retail in a way that 3D failed to do. While it might be surprising to see any MSOs announce 4K video packages at this juncture, expect the industry’s video encoding and set-top vendors to make announcements showing how they are making progress in that direction. Much of that early chatter will likely focus on H.265/High-Efficiency Video Coding, a codec designed to be about 50% more efficient than MPEG-4/H.264.
Moving services and apps to the cloud has been a hot topic in recent years, but only now are we starting to see a bevy of real-world examples of how the cloud is being leveraged to decouple the user interface, house the DVR, and become a repository for “Big Data” analytics.
Don’t miss: “Living Large and Soaring Higher: How Big Data and Cloud Services are Powering Cable’s New Tech Era.” Monday, June 10, at Noon (Room 207A).
If you’re looking for a centralized (and comfortable) place (with Wi-Fi) where many of these topics will be colliding, the place to be is Imagine Park (Booth 2133), which will offer hours of info on new products and ideas and general “thought leadership” throughout the show. Topics on tap include cable’s targeting of the second screen, advanced user interfaces, the all-IP migration, the so-called “Internet of Everything,” and Big Data. Among the don’t-miss Imagine Park sessions is a Q&A with Comcast chief technology officer Tony Werner on Wednesday, June 12, at 1 p.m.