Join us this week as we chat with Carlos Santos, Head of Products (Europe) at KAON MEDIA and cover…
📺 How KAON MEDIA have implemented RDK into their work
📺 How Global Operators can get involved in RDK
📺 Where Carlos thinks the future may take us…
Hello, and welcome to the RDK podcast. I’m your host, Jamie Walker and today I’m joined by Carlos Santos from KAON MEDIA. Carlos, it’s a pleasure to have you.
Thank you, Jamie, it’s a pleasure to participate in the podcast,. I look forward to the session today. Thank you once again.
No problem at all. So Carlos, can you tell me a little bit about who KAON are and what you do?
Sure. Well start a little bit about myself, right? So I joined KAON MEDIA, one year and a half, more or less, I mean, I spent pretty much all of my life doing operator professional life, right, so I’ve worked past life in Liberty Global, Vodafone, then, you know, these challenges pop up in my way, so I have decided to join KAON, and because the challenge was quite appealing. So I pretty much join as head of product. So I’m responsible for business development and product strategy, product definition. So I work very close with my sales team, based in Europe.
So we are split by different regions, where we engage pretty much on a daily basis, we engage with focusing on the European operators, we talk with most of these operators, we try to understand, you know, what is the demands, what they are driving and what they are seeing, you know, ahead of them, right? So most of the times we centre, that tension in terms of today, but we tried as an OEM to understand what is, you know, the next tendency, so, that is pretty much, you know, what I do on a daily basis, of course, fully supported by the team, based in Korea.
So KAON MEDIA is is based in Seoul. So that there is where HQ is represented with all the strategy and also the R&D Centre. And pretty much, you know, my second goal, as as head of product in Europe is to translate the needs of the local operators, and, you know, reshuffle that. Pretty much build the bridge force to resale and make sure that, you know, at the end of the day, we have a product that meets the European market demands.
Yeah, so that is pretty much also because, you know, we are a global company. So sometimes what is applicable, for example, in Asia may not be applicable in Europe. Actually, we see a lot of synergies, but this is pretty much where I sit down and you know, my responsibilities inside the group.
Okay, wow. So, obviously, quite a distance for you between Portugal now where where you’re living in and Korea, right? But again, looking into the company, you’re introduced to some really important technology within the operator space, right. I think one of your most important work streams is related to RDK. Can you tell us how KAON have utilised this platform?
Sure. So I mean, before I address the question, right, I need to create here a baseline, right. So on why RDK is the key differentiating a product offer and please keep it a consideration that KAON has pretty much two work streams, one is the video and the other one is broadband, we try to find in the middle, right? Because that is what we believe it’s driving the differentiates. So three, three elements, right that we look on the daily basis. Yeah. So, that is pretty much driven by RDK-V intimacy.
First one is platform and standardisation. Right. So, as you probably know, we have millions of deployed devices, right. So and it’s very important, you know, that after the deployments, we continue to maintain those products. So when it comes to the product lifecycle and the maintenance, it is very important that our strategy selects the right platform and follow standardisation. Yeah, because that will relieve the pressure specifically when it comes to the product maintenance and you know specifically on when it comes to the development. So point number one, right?
Second point is all about convergence and aggregation. I’m not talking only about when when we hear about convergence in, in video, we think about OTT apps, that’s the first thing that comes or pops up in our head. But it’s not just that, right. It’s also about the data aggregation and how we can create additional value to the operators for additional revenue streams, right? So for example, you know, recommendation engines, right, search engines, you know, all of that is part of what we consider this convergence and aggregation.
The third point, of course, you know, is, is related to the user experience, as I mentioned to you, we speak daily with operators, and all of them, you know, in their strategy is, all of their strategy is driven by user experience, right? So, what we try to do here is to create a vision or a preposition, it’s not the concept, right? It’s more than a concept, the preposition and tailor made to fit and, and to fit, you know, operator demands. And so those are pretty much the three pillars that we will represent now. How is KAON using RDK-V to position our proposition, right? So two streams very, very similar.
So, we are an active OEM collaborating with RDK Central. So the proof is that we are one of the leaders OEM, for example, collaborating on the video accelerator, and we are using debt work to create what we call a baseline framework accepted across the community, you know, pretty much to achieve a fast time to market a fast integration, and also deliver an optimal product, it’s not our goal, to reinvent the wheel, right, Jamie, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. So that is, you know, what we are trying to achieve here when we collaborate with RDK. Right. Also, RDK-V is also for us, you know, a way to upgrade legacy, I think we will explore more what I meant with upgrade legacy. But by default, we need you know, when it comes to the RDK part, we need lower resources, right, which makes these achievable. And also for your information, we are about to kick off a major, you know, migration programme, with RDK, in one of the largest tier one operators in Europe. So this is very, very important for us.
And this is how we are pretty much using RDK to position our preposition here. The second part is related to the connectivity. Once again, as we mentioned in the beginning, insides, can we truly believe that the broadband and the video eco system will eventually merge. And we are making a huge effort to create this bridge. Right. So I mean, just to give you an example, or the perfect example is to use Wi Fi, you know, to address specific concerns that operators may have about multicast streaming, you know, excess of the OTT applications anywhere. And this is, you know, this is the pretty much the holistic view and how we are using RDK to position you know, our products into the market.
Okay, so it’s a great insight into that side, Carlos, I guess you’re giving operators, a quick and easy access way to market, right? As you said, by having everything in preparation there. So the platforms that you’ve used in the past to create similar products; how did they work out for you in comparison to RDK?
Well, good question. So let’s be honest here. Yeah. So looking to KAON background, majority of our deployments are based on Linux. Okay, so we have pretty much build our reference, our story, since they want accommodating specific customer requirements, right. We also have a large base deployments on Android TV. And I truly I personally truly believe that RDK-V will bring a new angle to this picture, right?
I mean, just for your information. Right now, we are reaching the number of 10 million deployed set top boxes. So we are quite happy with the achievements across the globe. But you know, we want to do more. And we we can say today that we have an experienced and dedicated team, you know, that is capable to create pretty much this abstraction layer, and integrate in any configuration a very complex system. Yeah, the proof is out there. Right. So you know, we we are pretty much agnostic all platforms. Yeah. But what we see now? Yeah, and this is now you know the translation here to our topic, what we see now is that operators want to go fast. And they will also want to go cheap. But let’s, let’s put the costs a little bit aside.
They want to go fast. They want to integrate more apps, they want to have more control control of their customer experience. And this is where we see the lights on the RDK-V, right? So I personally believe in looking into the market position, you know, specifically talking about Europe, I truly believe that RDK-V, we’ll start to address very soon, not what we call the Greenfield, right, because that is already pretty much proven by large operators. You know, we have plenty of examples like Liberty Global, specifically, when you look to Europe, yeah. And giving the example of Europe, even Sky. But I truly believe that RDK-V, and this is, you know, the link to these new angle will will drive what I call, you know, the Brownfield? Yeah. So, a migration platform to enable access to a unified customer experience and the rich start application, still keeping the control inside operators, right.
And this is what I meant going fast, right, not reinventing the wheel. And I truly believe this is, you know, what is happening in the markets. And this is, you know, pretty much how we see things moving forward. Yeah, please don’t take me wrong. We are, you know, happy with the milestones that we have achieved, but we are paying attention to the markets to the demands. And this is one angle, which I truly support. And, as I mentioned to you, it’s already happening in Europe. And it’s just a beginning of because it pretty much allows operators to reuse their baseline deployed to no more hardware, if you want to put no more new hardware, but just introduce, you know, the new concepts that pretty much are the case specifically with V4 is bringing as an added value to the to this industry.
Yeah, that’s it right. And I think this is where RDK makes the difference in the market, is giving operators or users the opportunity to deploy quicker and faster, and ultimately turn you’re turning around the product to the end customer quicker, keeping them happy, right? Yeah, definitely. Now, obviously, you’re a global company, and you yourself work predominantly, as you said, bridging the gap between Korea and Europe. How do you see RDK being used globally amongst competitors? And how big do you think this could really get?
Well, it’s always hard to talk about competitors, right, Jamie? But I will do my best. So, KAON is investing a lot on becoming an influencer for RDK-V writes, as we believe that this framework is sufficiently adaptive to meet two key elements, time to market and cost, right. So our focus is to have the same framework running in any old CPU, regardless of which, which which port number we are talking here to address, the dynamic needs, from content availability, to video quality streams, codecs, support, DRM supports, you name it. Yeah.
Regarding competition, you know, I can’t really comments, but I can tell you that, you know, we definitely have a similar thinking here, for sure. Yeah. I don’t think you know, the strategy from the OEMs differentiates a lot when it comes to, you know, using this platform, globally. Right. But if you allow me, let’s do one step back. So I mean, let’s focus on the European markets. We have what, five, six major operators driving it? I mean, Liberty, Sky, Comcast, not really in the plan, but you know, Nosh potentially more, right? So all of these operators have a common interest once again, first time to markets and decrease the cost. Yeah. And they also want to introduce at the same time, more contents, right. So I believe that RDK-V is bringing these two distinct scenarios that will allow what I consider to be an exponential deployment grow in the coming I would say 6-12 months. So Number one, new deployments, new reference hardwares, new requirements driven by, you know, RDK-V 4, firebolt framework, you name it. So this is one angle.
The second angle is to use the current framework. And on the current deployed devices, and this can be the game changer. Why? Because when you compare, for example, Android TV, Linux, you know, they all have an application store, right? At the end of the day, they all have the same apps available, right? They all have integrations done with different CRMs, different cars. They even have potential to use the same launcher. So that they differentiate mainly on the hardware resources, right. So for example, Android TV needs minimum I think it’s like a 2GB memory configuration 17k DMIPS. RDK-V needs way less writes. So it’s a hunger-less platform or framework if you want to call it like this. So this is what I believe it will happen.
Maybe you know, Jamie, like you were saying, we can meet again in six months on one year, and our podcast should start on this point. Yeah. “Carlos, you told me six months ago. What is your position right now?” So this is how I see things happening. I cannot actually comment on the strategy of other OEMs. But I can comment on our strategy. And the second angle on the migration of current deploy products is definitely a way to go. Yeah, I can I can see this stream happening.
Definitely. Yeah. And as a good leader, every touchpoint; it’s an open access to faster evolution. So what we might be talking about today, 6-12 months time, we could be talking about the next big thing with RDK, right? And the options that it gives you. I think on that note, how do you think RDK can evolve within both video and broadband in the future?
So I mean, this is definitely not an easy answer, right? Because, well, because the video part and the broadband part, they run into different paces, they also have different requirements, let’s put things like that. Right. And to be honest, I don’t have a straightforward solution. But what we definitely see, more and more is a convergence in between the video and the broadband, and vice versa. Not just video converting into broadband, but actually the other way around.
So look, at the broadband sides, what we’re trying to do, and they have some examples already trying to be running in Europe, we are creating this hardware abstraction layer, right, where the same software stack can run in any hardware, right? Or the video sides with the direction to you know, RDK-V for mainly. We also want to achieve a common built, right, that can be used by all articles humanity, and create references devices. So the same thinking, isn’t it, Jamie? Yeah, it’s very similar agenda at the end of the day, right? We want to achieve, you know, this buzzword that we call this common porting layer, right, and enable an easy upgrade to the latest article releases and utilities. Regardless, if we’re talking about video, or we’re talking about broadband, right, and utilities, be services, right? I mean, video has the dark, you know, but open will have, you know, potentially this app store concept. Right? So now the question is, for me, you know, this is the easy part, right? The question is, how do we create the link between the broadband and the video?
Because customers at the end of the day, they want a seamless experience, they want to access the content anywhere and everywhere. And operators want to give these as an enabler, right? So I post my set top box, I go to the my iPad, and I continue my experience, right? So OTT apps already do this. Yeah, sometimes with some, you know, additional applications. But how do you achieve these with for example, linear TV, that is even more challenging, right? So I definitely see for example, WiFi bringing these two ecosystem together and becoming the first bridge between the two domains providing this connectivity concept everywhere, right?
But you know, once again, I wouldn’t say it’s two different work streams. Once again, I truly believe that they will merge somewhere. You have plenty of initiatives out there, where addresses pretty much on the broadband, you know, IPTV multicast streams, no packet drops, or all of these is related to what RDK-V is also trying to address right. The Content Protection is a different ballgame, and I definitely do not want to enter that there. Yeah, because it’s complex, and the video back end is very complex. But look, I mean, could be a way to move to penetrate.
I wouldn’t say this is applicable for what we call tier one operators, right to me, because usually tier one operators, they have their R&D centres, they develop on top of the framework. But maybe this is something very, you know, applicable for smaller operators. Well, let’s call it tier two operators. I don’t like this terminology, but I will use it sorry. You know, that when something fast that wants something everywhere, and they don’t have the time or, you know, the expenditure, to build what? 300, 400 R&D centres full of people, right? So, it really depends, I believe they will converge. And I honestly think that WiFi, becoming, specifically now on this COVID situations, definitely a topic, and it will drive this competency. I truly believe in that.
Absolutely. I agree with you as well, and probably one of the few people who had to upgrade my WiFi when we went work from home last year. There we go. But, Carlos, it’s, it’s been an absolute pleasure to have you on the podcast, great information into what co media are doing and can offer to the market. And thank you so much to our listeners as well. Before we go, Carlos, where can we find you online?
Well, I mean, of course, you know, kaonmedia.com. Right. So that is pretty much where you can find all the portfolio and offer of what we are doing inside KAON, you know, I’m also available on the digital marketing tools and things like that, once again. You know, I can also share my email address, so Carlos.Santos@kaonmedia.com. So if you have any questions, any doubts, or even if you want to just, you know, dispute or you know, enhance the conversation of this podcast, I will be very happy once again, you know, there is no secrets. Yeah, I mean, in there is no secret sauce. And there is not only one one single solution. So, I welcome any comments from this session, much appreciated. I keep learning based on the feedback, right? So, thank you.