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September 15, 2021
Estimated reading time - 6 min

An interview with Ashwani Saigal.

Ashwani Saigal talking about the foundation of RDK

RDK-B continues to provide a foundation for innovation that is dramatically improving the ability of network service providers (NSPs) to deliver broadband access to connected homes around the world across a range of terrestrial infrastructures, including DOCSIS, DSL, GPON and now 5G. As the RDK-B community evolves, it leaves an indelible mark on how NSPs design, develop and deploy next-generation customer premises equipment (CPE).

To better understand the advancements being made to RDK-B and how it will enhance the connected home environment, we caught up with Ashwani Saigal, vice president of broadband PU at Technicolor Connected Home (now Vantiva). Here is what he had to say:

Technicolor’s history with RDK-B

When Technicolor Connected Home acquired Cisco’s Connected Device Business Unit (CDBU) in 2016, two powerful ecosystem technology players came together to enhance how consumers can benefit from advanced communications and entertainment services in the connected home, the leading provider of set-top boxes and gateways for NSPs around the world.

The two companies came together a a critical moment in history. For years the industry- including cable and telecommunications providers- had pursued largely proprietary technology development strategies to deliver broadband connectivity to the home.

In recent years, however, NSPs have realized that proprietary solutions are not aligned with the complex needs of the global connected home landscape. As a result we have seen interest in the Reference Design Kit for broadband (RDK-B) rise rapidly. RDk-B is an open-source initiative that standardizes software functionality for broadband devices; it enables multiple-system operators (MSOs) to deploy a range of services (including DOCSIS, DSL and GPON) in a cost-efficient and integrated manner.

Our Teams realized that the broadband space was quickly moving towards a more agnostic landscape,” says Saigal. “So we began to explore how we could leverage our work with RDK-B on the cable side and extend it to other markets of broadband CPEs. This has added exponential value across our offering to operators because they can provide a consistent user experience across multiple categories.”

Technicolor Connected Home is a founding contributor to RDK that has provided RDK solutions across QAM, IP and Hybrid devices since 2012. there are more than 350 companies worldwide in the RDK community, including CPE manufacturers, SoC vendors, software developers system integrators and service providers.

“RDK-B is an exciting advancement towards the standardization of software functionalities for the connected home. The Newly developed functionality from broadband opens an entirely new world of connectivity for multiple devices within the home,” explains Saigal.

To align the creation of new functional capabilities, Technicolor Connected Home established three key tenants that have governed the design, development and deployment of broadband access solutions:

  • Use what you have;
  • Enhance what you have to address the needs of your target market; and
  • Develop once and reuse multiple times.

“To address our first principle, ‘use what you have’, we thoroughly scoured the landscape to assess the current gateway landscape. We concluded that investments made by technicolor Connected Home- and the overall industry- in Linux open-source distribution remand an ideal foundation upon which to build routing stacks. As a result, we chose -and continue to use- this technology, as the basis for the RDK stack to serve our NSP clients,” states Saigal.

When it comes to enhancing investments that have already been made, Technicolor Connected Home also concluded that RDK-B offered the flexibility to address the very different needs of NSPs and consumers.

“RDK-B represents a large part of our client base. However, while Linux distribution was open-sourced, it was not robust enough to address all of the needs of the service provider market. That is why we have harnessed Technicolor Connected Home’s common client software platform (CCSP) – Which is included as a foundational part of RDK- to introduce enhanced functionality through innovative design improvements.”

For the third and final tenet, “develop once and reuse multiple times” Technicolor Connected Home improved CCSP so that the software architecture could be used across multiple products that are based on multiple SOC vendors.

“This has allowed us to deploy RDK across a range of single-core, dual -core and quad-core platforms,” says Saigal. “We have since worked closely with leading operators -such as Comcast- to rollout RDK-M to continue to improvements to opensource the CCSP stack for the betterment of the entire community and the whole world. Throughout the entire research and development phase, the most enjoyable part was seeing the product evolve from something addressing a very specific market to challenge a platform that is improving how the industry can solve a much wider range of market needs,” explains Saigal.

The future of the RDK-B platform

The progress of RDK-B has directly contributed to the overall service provider market while also providing opportunities for specific operators to introduce features and services that can serve as key differenciators to increase market share.

“This is because RDK-B is a middleware that abstracts hardware and functionality – in effect, it becomes the common glue that provides ubiquitous service to all users of a device. Combined with the speed and bandwidth that operators provide today -including 10G acess speeds– service providers can add more value-added services to their devices and enhance the user experience. this technical innovation has provided the foundation for generating additional average revenue per user (ARPU) by increasing customer stickiness. RDK-B plays a key role in this because it standardizes the interface for low-level and high-level APIs,” Says Saigal.

The RDK platform is very different today than when it was created in 2014.

While it still has the same foundation and architecture, it has been greatly enhanced. It now supports multiple access technologies that enable a range of new services- such as those based on Internet-of-Things (IoT)- along with a wide range of devices- such as cameras and home security sensors.

“This is greatly accelerating the adoption rate of RDK-B in the market and beyond. In fact, Technicolor Connected Home has recently reached a huge milestone. We have 20 million RDK-B deployments worldwide. It’s a very exciting time. We fully expect this number to continue growing a the lines between telco operators and cable operators continue to blur and they move towards becoming broadband operators -or more specifically- user experience operators capable of providing broadband quickly, efficiently and through the entire home,” says Saigal.

“Looking towards the future, as 5G technology becomes a viable alternative to wireline technologies -like fiber- consumers can expect operators to further leverage RDK-B to provide enhanced user experiences by optimizing access speeds.”

“it applies to the Applications we know today- like Video conferencing, browsing, gaming -and supports emerging applications for services based on augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), as well as other technologies that are on the horizon. As RDK-B continues to contribute to the community, the entire ecosystem will collectively get better,” concludes Saigal.

Watch the full interview below.