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In today’s episode, Jamie sits down with Phil Cardy, VP of Product Management in Europe for Commscope to chat about…

🎙 Commscope’s role in the RDK community

🎙 ‘Chipageddon’, and the impact of COVID-19 on the industry

🎙 RDK entering the Fibre market, and how that might look…

Jamie 0:29
Hello, and welcome to the RDK podcast. I’m your host, Jamie Walker, and today I’m joined by Phil Cardy. Phil is the VP of product management for Commscope home network department. Phil, it’s great to have you on the show.

Phil 0:46
Hi Jamie, good to talk.

Jamie 0:48
Great to have you aboard Phil. So let’s just jump right in, shall we? Tell us a little bit about your journey in tech and how you got started in the video space.

Phil 1:00
Okay, I originally started off in Bell northern research. I started off in Northern Ireland, currently living in Northern Ireland Went, went over and worked in California for 10 years. Came back for a small software startup in the conditional access business that got me into this line of business you might say, having come from really telco background before we got bought by pace, then RS and then Commscope itself I’ve had quite journey. As a joke, I’ve had the same office on four different companies. So I haven’t had the change job. It keeps changing for me.

Jamie 1:52
Okay, so obviously California is a very nice place to live. What part of California were you residing?

Phil 1:58
Sonoma County, so the wine country, which is pretty nice.

Jamie 2:02
Yeah, nothing better, right.

Phil 2:05
I like my cycling, and it’s a nice place to cycle.

Jamie 2:09
Perfect. Well, tell us a little bit about about who Commscope are, then Phil, and what your role is within the business.

Phil 2:17
Okay, well Commscope’s a global company; bought Aris, probably over two years ago. We’re now and I think we’ve publicly announced that actually, our home networks business is going to spin out lovingly called Spin co. At the minute until we get an official name, we expect that to close and be listed on NASDAQ in q2 of next year. So it’s the the journey continues of an ever changing landscape. But that’s, that’s why we love technology. It’s always changing. You know, the home networks business, specifically as the name would explain, is really focused on all of the technology to deliver services within the home, it doesn’t mean all of the products and services are in the home because we have lots of cloud analytics back office management platforms.

Phil 3:23
But you know, the biggest part of the business is the really the CPE business. So get ways, set up boxes, Wi Fi extenders, all of the all of the software around that and really making you know, our vision is really to make a home network for people and you know, with with the pandemic that’s really got into sharp focus for people, I think we’re we’re all we’re all at home and we want our Wi Fi to work seamlessly our our video is all streamed and IP and and that’s actually really good for business. You know, it’s we’ve seen that complexity and and wish for more functionality to increase greatly.

Jamie 4:08
That’s it. I guess, with Commscope working on such a global scale, at the business itself comes across many different challenges. So in that aspect, what what do you think the benefits will be to service providers that you work with, when it comes to providing them a service that’s built on an RDK platform?

Phil 4:32
Yeah, so that that fits in very much with our, our overall vision so that if you look at the landscape, let’s go back just a couple of years, not not very far it is changing very rapidly, but you had all of your devices on proprietary stacks, right. So your gateways are all proprietary from the OEM. Generally, the The set of boxes very much Linux with, you know, a variety of conditional access and DRM and, and delivery mechanisms. We see that moving forward, right? You demanded you, you’ve got quite a bifurcation, Android and video. Still a mixture of stocks in the broadband space with RDK, we see a way to have much more commonality of that, this becomes really important for the management back office side of that.

Phil 5:36
So being able to monitor, identify issues, resolve issues, manage the software, the devices are getting much more complex. You know, Moore’s Law still applies. worked at Intel. And, you know, Moore’s law is the sort of the religion of silicon, you know, these devices continue to get more complex and more powerful, you know, you see it with your phones as well. So there’s much more sort of edge compute processing. So having having that stack capable of, of managing not having the applications, the devices in the home, communicating with each other as a home network really becomes important. And the only way to do that is really, by having commonality of software, the biggest complexity is really around the software. Right? And that’s, you know, think of somebody said, is, So, so far, we’ll eat everything else. And more and more, you know, we’re, we’re becoming much more of a software and services company, and many more of the resources go to that rather than purely designing hardware.

Jamie 6:51
Yeah, I think for everybody that’s watching and listening, they would have come across Aris, Pace, Commscope for sure if they’re working in our industry. But how do Commscope go about creating a competitive device that fits all of the needs for specific service providers on a global scale?

Phil 7:14
Yeah. Well, I think I think there’s a couple of things. One, if you look at the video space, it’s the devices are becoming simpler, right, simpler from a hardware point of view. It’s all IP, you know, we’ve got dongles and sticks, we’ve got lots of names. For them, we don’t really talk about setup boxes, not it’s almost going back to talking about decoders, right? It’s, it’s effectively, devices that can get video onto your screen. Now, the interesting thing is that’s not just broadcast video, you have lots of catch up with you’ve also things like video conferencing, home health, you know, automation, managing your IoT and your Wi Fi. Because at the end of the day, that the biggest screen in the home is your TV normally, so.

Phil 8:09
So the video space is becoming much more global. In that you can, you can really have a set of devices, and commonality of software. And you know, ie HDMI, and TVs are pretty global things right? All of those regional differences are slowly going away. The broadband space is still a little bit more segmented, you’ve got you’ve still got DSL, you’ve still got fibre to the home, you’ve still got DOCSIS, I rdk traditionally came from the DOCSIS space, that’s really where in broadband, we really grew a lot of that massive amount of of products. And we heard it in the RDK, summit of really RDK going more into fibre to the home and and the the the various one interfaces. So with that this means that we can have much more common hardware and software platforms. So certainly over time, this is where we’re going right is really keeping the common core of the device and then really making the physical interfaces much the different regulatory and network needs.

Jamie 9:33
Yeah, I mean Commscope have a rich history with RDK and specifically working with DOCSIS but as you mentioned in the end the summit recently we’re looking at the G-pon feature and the fibre market. How do you, or do you believe that RDK has a future within the fibre market? Do you see the transition for them a simple transition?

Phil 10:00
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So again, the what’s very hard for operators and even for sales is having all of these different stocks. Whenever really the core of the device is the same, right? And on the the northbound interfaces to the operator network are really the same. So, you know, we see it as a very natural transition. I think I, along with the RDK management team made the announcement a few years ago avoid, you know, as RS being the first to work on RDK for G-pon. So we’re pretty far down the road with thought. It’s taken a while to get there.

Phil 10:45
We’re definitely seeing operators absolutely bought into that now. You know, we we heard from Pedro in DT, we can see they’re really, I would say walking the walk, you might say in that respect. And we’re seeing many operators really migrating to fibre to the home, whether they were telcos with DSL, or DOCSIS operators, everybody’s really looking to fibre and even for sales. Again, as we heard in the RDK summit, you’re weird. We’re not even advancing on to RDK, in a fixed wireless access environment. I’m using 5G. And, you know, 5G back up, and and lots of you know, really looking at that as another another one interface, right and not. If we went back, even two to three years, we would have looked at data as a completely different device. Now we look at it as a different interface on the same core device with the same core software.

Jamie 11:55
Yeah, that’s it, I think, I think it’s very much going to bring in the IoT aspect of sectors as well connected devices. And how easily is to connect and transmit through those as well?

Phil 12:13

Jamie 12:14
I guess, during the pandemic, obviously, as a business, as employees, we’ve had to deal with lockdown after lockdown across the world. During that time, people were buying more into tech to keep themselves busy and occupied without losing their minds. Right. The press started to call something called ‘Chipageddon’, because all sorts of tech companies were struggling to keep up. Has this affected the way that commscope has kept up with technology? You know? Have you seen that aspect come into effect on your side?

Phil 12:55
Well, we’ve certainly seen supply chain issues, right? I think it’s, it’s, as you say, tip again, as certainly one of the, you know, as being brought out, you know, COVID has, has had a ripple effect, right? It’s it’s a little bit like chaos theory, right of one thing happens and the unintended consequences of that. Demand is massive. Right, so demand and broadband, but even in video, you know, that the there’s always a discussion of the death of the setup box, right? And that won’t be needed. But actually, people really like watching their video, their Netflix or Amazon, their YouTube on their television, right in their, their 1080p and and, of course, that drives up bandwidth.

Phil 13:51
You know, we’ve seen, we’re releasing products with Wi Fi6, that’s really accelerating massive pressure to get these new devices with better bandwidth, better coverage, that’s really the most important thing. robustness and reliability have actually come to the fore. So as the devices have got so performance, that really, the subscribers, it’s good enough for the subscribers, it’s all about being able to manage those devices, keep that reliability, you know, coming from a telco background, we always talked about five nines reliability, basically, knew your telephone didn’t go down. Right? And we know see that expectation and broadband and Wi Fi even, you know, people have very little tolerance to their broadband, and their services going down because that’s their Lifeline, right? It’s so important to people’s work, education, of course. So there’s been a lot of pressure.

Phil 15:03
Again, one of the things unintended consequences of that is many operators are accelerating a move to newer technology. And and we’re also seeing that our partners and suppliers in the chip space moving forward and I again, we heard from Pedro and Deutsche Telekom talk about bringing the silicon guys along. Right and moving to those newer technologies. That’s, that’s really in sharp focus. We’re always looking at the new, the newest thing, but I think there’s a lot of pressure to move quickly.

Jamie 15:44
Yeah, I think I think touching on the supply chain aspect, my experience as a consumer was obviously as we entered lockdown, I always was of the mindset that my internet at home was fine as it was, until there was all three of us at home trying to work from home, at the same time, and then, you know, tried to upgrade that router being told as a 12-13 week wait for a device.

Jamie 16:11
That’s when the realisation really started to hit because being in the space, you hear about it, but until you experience it and have that understanding, right? Yes, that’s that’s where it lives. I guess then, Phil, where is Commscope looking to take RDK in the future? Is it mostly going to be a broadband or video centred focus for you?

Phil 16:39
Well, it’s, we’re doing both. So we are very focused on bringing out what we would call rd k products in video. So RDK up to now has been sort of seen as a toolkit, right? So the, you know, the Liberty Global’s, Nos in Portugal, Comcast have all sort of worked in RDK themselves and come up with solutions. The maturity is neither that we would, we believe that we can get to a point of actually delivering full products based on RDK. With, with Netflix, prime, HBO max, all the premium apps, then with the lightning framework, all all other apps as well, I think somebody mentioned yesterday, there’s 1000 apps on RDK. So we know how very high confidence of that we’re talking to many operators, by God, on, you know, the and that’s a nice compliment for what Android can bring you.

Phil 17:51
Each operator has their own view of what they want to bring to the market. But it means you can get those premium apps, you can manage your user experience and tailor it the way you want. And that’s, that’s really what we’re trying to do is get get operators to the point where they can tailor it as they like, but they don’t have to, they don’t have to invest massively in building a whole product. So video, that’s really where we’re going. So the the the move to IP actually has really helped that because we’re not worried about all of the other complexity of PVR. And that sort of thing.

Phil 18:30
Broadband, we’re absolutely committed, you’re working on that we’re still working on, some of our more traditional things for the operators that want that. But you know, from our point of view, we look at RDK as really go forward platform for us, way beyond what we’re doing and DOCSIS. And that just gives us the base, you know, as as we rule like containerization, within DOCSIS that allows us to relate apps. So you know, there wasn’t really much of a concept of applications within a broadband gateway before, but now that that’s really a need as a speed testing becomes more advanced automation, IoT you can imagine, as operators want IoT interfaces, they want to be able to drop in applications to manage those IoT services, whether it’s Home Security or Wi Fi management or, or you know, something else we haven’t even thought of. So we’re really trying to build that, that platform that can be much more extensible.

Jamie 19:38
Yeah, I think touching on that, again, Pedro was talking about being able to troubleshoot from an application as well yes, through it. So I think yeah, definitely the advancements and where it’s going, it’s going to make way of life much easier, as well when, when it comes to those issues at home.

Phil 19:56
We hope so, um, you know, our job between ourselves and our, our customers, the operators is, you know, the subscriber at home should have no clue about the underlying technology, right? It’s about the user experience. And from our point of view of all of our thinking is really based on the user experience. RDK is a platform that allows us to really implement that abstraction from the technology writers, as you say. You want to manage everything, either through your TV or through your smartphone, you don’t really want to know, all of the complexity underneath that’s, that’s making that magic work, you know?

Jamie 20:42
Absolutely. Well, Phil… It’s been an absolute pleasure to pick your brains today. For our listeners, where can they find you online?

Phil 20:52
Well, I’m on LinkedIn. Of course, anybody can email me if they want that. Phil.Cardy@commscope.com

Phil 21:03
Yeah, I probably need to do more on LinkedIn, I would say more in social media. I look a lot and you know, certainly heavily involved with with the RDK team that already came management team Jason, and the guys as well. Anybody can reach out by RDK management as well, at any time.

Jamie 21:26

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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