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Friday June 17, 2011 3:37 pm

Comcast demos new 1 gigabit per second broadband and Xcalibur DVR interface

Xfinity DVR SpectrumComcast chief executive Brian Roberts showed off a demonstration of a 1-Gbit/s broadband connection Thursday, as well as the company's next-generation DVR interface.

At the NCTA Conference in Chicago, Roberts characterized the demonstration as the next generation of Xfinity, the company's hybrid cable-based video/phone/data service. The company launched it two years ago as "Project Infinity".

First, however, Roberts showed off the future of the Comcast interface.

"What I want to show you today is not the future, but right here, right now," Roberts said, showing off the "Xcalibur" interface that is currently in trials in Augusta, Georgia.

Xcalibur is based on cloud computing - not clpoud storage, but cloud-computing. The guide actually resides in the cloud, Roberts said. Users can see a traditional channel view, or view programs by genre or for different users. An On Demand view also uses a similar format. The Xcalibur's new remote also uses RF technology, which is not limited by line of sight. Users can also type in "HBO" using numbers - like a phone number - and pulls in additional information via the cloud.

A new "last" button also pulls up the last nine channels or programs watched, including On Demand programs.

Users can also "like" a technology via the cloud, which Comcast is using to provide recommendations. Even apps are included, including weather, traffic (with maps and traffic-camera video) and Pandora and Facebook. "Friend trends" allow users to see "the totality of their Facebook relationships, and if they like something, it pops up," Roberts said.

"It can be innovated, changed, on the fly, and it can be changed for everyone across the country," Roberts said of the new interface.

Roberts also showed off recorded video of a live gigabit connection across miles of the Comcast network. He downloaded the current season of "30 Rock" in about 90 seconds.

In 1996, DOCSIS 1.0 allowed downloads of between 1 to 2 Mbits/s. In 2007, DOSCIS 3.0 allowed 100-Mbit/s downloads, the fastest commercial tier that Comcast offers.

Now, Comcast is moving even further ahead. In a speedtest.org test, the download reached 1,084 Mbit/s, Roberts showed.

"Today, Comcast offers Internet speeds up to 105 Mbps — and we've been increasing speeds for our customers every year since we launched in 2002 with just 1.5 Mbps of speed," Tony Werner, executive vice president and chief technology officer for Comcast, in a blog post. "We deliver more speed to more homes than any other ISP in America, and we'll keep up that pace as the Internet continues to evolve."

Roberts did not say when or if Comcast would offer 1-Gbit speeds to consumers, however, nor how much the company would price the service at.

Comcast also showed off a partnership with Skype that will allow Comcast subscribers to make voice calls, albeit with dedicated hardware.

This article, written by Mark Hachman, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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