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CES Report: Cisco and Charter Use the Cloud for Next-Gen Cable

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"Smart networks make dumb screens smart," said Tom Rutledge, president and CEO of Charter Communications. “We can take any kind of device and make it a sophisticated device.”

Rutledge was addressing a crowd of analysts and press during International CES 2015, at a reception to highlight a key partnership between his company and Cisco. The two worked together to create Worldbox, Charter's new cable receiver. With Worldbox, all platform intelligence is in the cloud, letting Charter upgrade remotely without causing massive user disruption.

Cisco's contributions to Worldbox include its cloud-based security suite and digital rights management (DRM) technology. Worldbox acts as a thin client, with a cloud-driven interface and easily updatable software.

"This makes every box and every TV that's connected to it in the Charter universe state of the art," Rutledge said.

Worldbox is 4K-ready and can function as a home network center. It's less expensive to manufacture than previous models.

"It changes our ability from a cost perspective to go all digital," Rutledge added.

Because all processing takes place in the cloud, the power of the receiver is no longer critical. The two companies demoed how the Worldbox interface and program guide can display on any connected device, including smartphones, tablets, and a Roku set-top box.

"I think the hardest thing in business is to manage creative disruption," Rutledge said.

In his remarks, John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, talked about what the cloud economy would do to business. "This will usher in a whole new wave in entertainment, but also a new business paradigm in terms of the speed you must move."

 

John Chambers, CEO of Cisco

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