Comcast X1 Gears Up for Multiroom DVR

PACE XG1 HD-DVR TO SHARE RECORDED VIDEO WITH RNG150N SET-TOPS STARTING IN JUNE
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Comcast’s next-generation X1 video platform will soon be in a sharing mood. The MSO confirmed it will add multiroom DVR capabilities to the X1 later this month, and bring to the Internet protocol- capable platform a new wrinkle that Comcast already offers on its legacy video platform.

In this initial deployment scenario, the Pace XG1, an HD DVR equipped with six tuners that currently serves as the centerpiece of the X1, will share content recorded to the DVR over the home coax network with the RNG150N, a non-DVR HD client set-top. Pace, Arris (via its acquisition of Motorola Home) and Cisco are among the known makers of the RNG150N.

Comcast “will be launching multiroom DVR capability to all existing X1 markets in June,” a spokeswoman said, but she did not offer a precise launch date.

Comcast has deployed X1 in the following markets: Boston; Independence, Mo.; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Philadelphia; New Jersey; Colorado; and systems serving a handful of California cities, including the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Fresno, Stockton and Santa Barbara. Comcast expects to launch X1 to half its service areas by the end of June, and across its footprint by the end of the year.

The MSO is targeting X1 primarily to new triple-play customers, but has not yet revealed how many customers are on the new, IP-capable service.

The initial multiroom set-up is expected to support a total of five tuners (four for DVR recording and one for watching live TV). In May, Comcast senior vice president and general manager of video services Marcien Jenckes wrote on the MSO’s blog that the operator was preparing to activate the fifth tuner on the X1 DVR and boost the number of programs customers can record on the DVR from two to four. Comcast has yet to say when it will activate the XG1’s sixth tuner or how it intends to use it.

At last year’s Cable Show, Comcast acknowledged it would eventually bring the X1’s cloud-based user interface and whole-home DVR capabilities to the RNG150N, a box that uses a CableCard. At the time, the MSO estimated that 7 million to 8 million RNG150s were already in the field.

The XG1/RNG150N combo is likely the precursor to a more advanced whole-home DVR set-up that will use the Xi3, an all-IP HD client device that’s being made by multiple vendors that does not possess a CableCard slot. It’s being made by multiple vendors, including Pace and Humax. Comcast has not announced deployment plans for the Xi3, but the device is expected to work in tandem with a new class of XG5 video gateways from Arris and other suppliers that are capable of transcoding live QAM video into IP streams that can be shipped to client devices hanging off the home network.

TAKEAWAY

Comcast’s IP-capable X1 video platform will add multiroom DVR functionality later this month.

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