A Rocky Mountain WICT event in Denver last week culminated in a fireside chat with Comcast EVP and CTO Tony Werner, who talked about two technologies where Comcast is moving toward IP: an iPad application for a TV remote; and a residential network gateway (RNG) set-top box.

At the Cable Show in June, Comcast demonstrated an application to use Apple’s iPad as a TV remote control. (To see a demo, click here). The MSO is expected to launch the finalized version of this touch-screen application before the end of the year.

"It (the iPad app) is coming along great," said Werner. "It solves problems of search and discovery. The discovery, navigation, browser is very powerful. There’s lots of work going on harmonizing metadata." He said the application will use APIs that instruct the set-top.

"I think there’s going to be a lot of activity that you’re going to see at CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) as to how they’re going to work these devices," he said.

Werner also talked briefly about an RNG set-top box.

"The RNG set-top is our mainstay of set-tops that we’re buying today," he said. "They’ve got a DOCSIS modem and an IP address. We’ve deployed a bunch that are running native, but we can flip them as we start to roll." He said Comcast currently has deployed 10 million of the IP-capable RNGs.

"Two years ago there was a big blast on 3D at CES," said Werner. "3D will have almost no impact on our business compared to IP."

Bandwidth Savings

Werner also mentioned a way to manage bandwidth that’s similar in concept to switched digital video (SDV).

"The whole industry is going to an adaptive streaming approach," he said. "We’ve got the opportunity to have audio and video in separate files, which I’m an advocate of." He said the provider can use an algorithm to determine if a video viewer has likely stopped watching. "We would go to a screen saver. The audio would continue, but we would tear down the video."?

-Linda Hardesty

The Daily

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