Cablevision’s Next Box to Float With Cloud

MSO TAPS HUMAX, SAMSUNG TO DEVELOP ‘FUTURE SERVICE PORTAL’ SET-TOP
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The forecast for Cablevision Systems’ next generation of set-top boxes? Cloudy with a (good) chance of HTML5.

The Bethpage, N.Y.-based MSO has selected Humax and Samsung to build a next-generation “Future Services Portal” set-top that will use HTML5 and lean heavily on cloud-delivered services and applications, multiple industry sources have told Multichannel News.

Cablevision selected the vendors following a request for proposal issued last year, sources said, and the operator expects to begin deploying the new class of devices sometime in 2014. “Future Services Portal” is considered to be an internal label designated by the MSO, not a consumer-facing brand.

The full specifications of the new box were not immediately known, but the device will not house internal digital video recorder storage. Instead, it will connect to DVR Plus, Cablevision’s network-based “remote-storage” DVR.

One source said the new class of box will use Cablevision’s downloadable security system but, in a departure from its current video platform, will not run the Open Cable Application Platform, the CableLabs-specified middleware platform also known as Tru2way.

The boxes are also expected to support a new, graphical cloud-based user interface that will have a simlar look and feel as the UIs Cablevision has developed for IP-connected devices such as the iPad.

The approach follows a trend seen among other major U.S. cable operators. Comcast’s next-generation X1 video platform uses a cloud-based UI, as will the coming “X2” upgrade. Time Warner Cable is also testing a cloud-based UI ahead of a national deployment expected to get underway in 2014.

Cablevision confirmed in a statement that it is “working on a next-generation box and other initiatives that will leverage the power of our entire network, but we have nothing to announce at this time.” The MSO did not comment on vendor selections or device specifications.

But the operator has already indicated that it’s a fan of HTML5.

“Cablevision is committed to providing the highest-quality TV, phone and Internet service, and HTML5 will help us to further enhance the television user experience across devices,” Cablevision executive vice president of corporate engineering and technology Yvette Kanouff said in a statement issued in June, when ActiveVideo announced upgrades to its HTML5-capable CloudTV H5 platform.

Cablevision uses ActiveVideo’s system to deliver interactive apps to the set-top box. ActiveVideo is pitching cable operators on a platform that allows them to write apps once in HTML5 in the cloud and deliver a consistent experience across all manner of devices, including set-tops and connected TVs.

Cablevision’s latest deal offers a possible future direction for Charter Communications, which has plans to deploy a similar downloadable security platform in set-top boxes, and has announced that it will use ActiveVideo’s system to deploy cloud-based apps, including user interfaces.

TAKEAWAY

Cablevision Systems is crafting a next-generation set-top that will rely on HTML5 and cloud

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