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GatewaysConnected DevicesReference Design Kit


Inside cable homes, the traditional array of set-tops and cable modems are beginning to be replaced by gateway devices. Sometimes referred to as whole-home gateways, hybrid gateways or unified gateways, these devices combine set-top box and cable modem functionality into one box. Initial models supported delivery of both traditional QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) digital video and DOCSIS Internet, while newer models support all-IP video delivery.

Depending on a cable provider’s preferences, the gateways can include multiple TV tuners for multichannel DVR recording, a DVR hard drive, MPEG2/MPEG4 video transcoding, a native program guide and VoIP (voice over IP) for phone service. The gateway serves as a media center in the home, delivering video to other TVs (connected by thin client boxes, wired or wireless) and broadband-connected devices. Among the options are so-called “headless” IP gateways, ones without video outputs to a TV that can be stashed away in a closet or attic like today’s wireless routers. New wireless video gateways are relying upon high-speed, dual band Wi-Fi 802.11ac to distribute IP video wirelessly around the home.   

Connected Devices

This is a catch-all term for the wave of consumer electronics (CE) that have broadband Internet connections and can deliver video. That includes smart TVs, tablets, smartphones, laptops, game players and over-the-top video devices. According to research studies, watching video continues to grow dramatically on these Internet-connected devices, which increases the challenge of rendering video on multiple devices and meeting increasing bandwidth demands.

Connecting CE devices to cable and providing home networking capability can be achieved through a variety of means, including: MoCA (Multimedia Over Coax Alliance) coaxial cable wired solutions; Ethernet, a standard wired computer connection; DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance), supporting secure connectivity on devices including those certified with the VidiPath brand; HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) 1.0/2.0 cables, commonly used for connecting set-tops to HDTVs; USB ports for “sticks” that support video; and Wi-Fi wireless connections.

Find out more: Multimedia Over Coax Alliance (MoCA)

Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA)



Reference Design Kit (RDK)

The reference design kit (RDK) consists of a software bundle that powers set-top boxes, gateways and other customer-premises equipment (CPE). It runs on the latest, faster microprocessor chips and is designed to speed new devices to market. RDK Management, LLC, a venture by Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Liberty Global, licenses the RDK software “stack” at no cost. A newer version, RDK-B, provides software for broadband devices. 

There are more than 220 licensee companies, including service providers, software developers, system integrators and CE manufacturers. RDK uses open-source software and the licensees share software enhancements through the RDK member community. Most of cable’s device manufacturers are producing devices with RDK inside. RDK does not include application software for creating apps or on-screen UIs but various suppliers have developed compliant software for those purposes.   

Find out more: RDK Central

RDK for Non-Engineers

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