Videotron Launches X1-Based Helix

Debut comes two years after Canadian cable operator announced tech licensing deal with Comcast
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Quebec-based cable operator Videotron has launched a new entertainment, WiFi management and home automation platform based on Comcast’s X1 technology, two years after it announced a white-label licensing deal with its American counterpart.

Videotron's Helix-branded set-top, gatgeway and voice remote

Videotron's Helix-branded set-top, gatgeway and voice remote

Branded as “Helix,” the new tech includes the same wireless video set-top and DOCSIS 3.1 WiFi gateway used in the U.S. by Comcast X1 subscribers. According to Lightreading, Videotron is using gateway hardware manufactured by Technicolor using Broadcom chips. Another variety used in X1 is based CommScope/Arris devices powered by Intel silicon. Videtron will reportedly sell the Helix Fi Gateway for $187 U.S. and the set-top for $180.

Like X1, the system is controlled by voice remote, which lets users tap into the platform’s cloud DVR and powerful search and discovery capabilities using either English or French. As with X1, Netflix is native to the operating system, as is Videotron’s own SVOD streaming platform, Club illico.

The cable operator said it plans to enable X1’s home automation features in the coming weeks

Videotron lost 7% of its pay TV user base from June 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019. Like Comcast—and fellow Canadian operators Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications, which have also licensed X1—Videotron sees the platform as way of at least slowing the effects of cord cutting.

For its part, Comcast may have lost 224,000 pay TV customers in the second quarter. But overall, it’s pay TV base has only eroded by about 2.1% from Q2 2018 to Q2 2019.

“Today, we're launching a brand new entertainment platform and, very soon, a connected living experience,” said Videotron CEO Jean-Francois Pruneau said in a statement. By consistently innovating and listening to consumers' needs, we're always offering the best customer experience. I believe Quebecers will not only adopt Helix quickly, they won't be able to live without it”

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