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FCC approves proposal to boost TV set-top box competition

Discussion in 'Computers, Home Theater & Technology' started by Dryden, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. Dryden

    Dryden Sober as Sarkisian Staff Member Tech Admin

    The FCC just took the first big step toward changing the cable box business

    By Colin Lecher
    on February 18, 2016 11:39 am

    In a three-to-two vote, the FCC has decided to move ahead with a proposal that could drastically change the cable set-top box industry. The decision may have far-reaching consequences for how cable customers watch TV — ultimately allowing them to go through third parties for their set-top systems, rather than being tied to the same company they use for cable service.

    The proposed rule changes will now move into a comment period — where businesses and customers will be able to weigh in — ahead of revisions and a final vote, still some months away. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler first announced the proposed rule changes last month, and it's been met by criticism from a cable industry that has long kept the keys to the castle. Cable companies have argued that the future may leave the cable box behind entirely — focused, instead, on apps — and that the FCC is driving innovation from the wrong direction.

    Wheeler argues that if any company can build a box that can communicate with any TV service, those companies will be able to get started building cable boxes rather than having to work out other deals first. The competition, the Chairman argues, will drive down costs and improve device options for consumers. He said at the assembled meeting that "consumers have no choice today," and that the proposed rules did not make major changes for consumers. "It only creates the opportunity for them to have choice."

    "While the cost of other technologies have fallen as competition increased, the cost of a set-top box has risen at more than three times the rate of inflation for American paid-TV subscribers over that same period," FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said at the meeting, in support of the proposed rules. She noted that more than $200 per year was spent on set-top box rentals.

    Cont'd ...
    muffler dragon and scarletmike like this.
  2. Dryden

    Dryden Sober as Sarkisian Staff Member Tech Admin

    Of course the cable companies think this is a bad idea, because then they can't charge you $30-40 a month in perpetuity to rent a couple crap appliances with garbage universal remotes, broken UI, and no support for 3rd party apps which most TV connected appliances have had since 2006.
  3. Abenaki

    Abenaki Ohio against the world.

    This is my favorite part so far:

    But the cable industry has warned regulators that it will have little choice but to keep requiring monthly set-top box rentals if the federal government moves ahead with its proposal.

    As a result, households that want to ditch their set-top boxes could wind up with even more of them, industry officials say. Instead of buying a third-party cable box to replace the one they rent from their TV provider, consumers could be forced to manage multiple devices, various firms have told regulators in meetings and in a regulatory filing.

    Basically, "we can't lose the profits we make off of rentals, so we're going to make you rent a completely unnecessary box to connect to your box to make the whole thing work."
    kujirakira, AuTX Buckeye and Thump like this.
  4. Dryden

    Dryden Sober as Sarkisian Staff Member Tech Admin

    It's like cable companies are being run by the idiot banker character from those Huntington commercials. They'll ultimately wind up at a $10/mo "bring your own box" connection surcharge if you refuse to rent their equipment.
  5. matcar

    matcar Mostly banned

    Perhaps they can find a way to work with Roku, Google and AppleTV to provide content. Otherwise, their tv business will ultimately dwindle and die.
  6. Abenaki

    Abenaki Ohio against the world.

    I've no doubt they CAN. I've also no doubt they don't want to and will fight it tooth and nail until there's no other choice.
  7. scarletmike

    scarletmike Researching the Magic!

    Pretty sure the way the FCC has described how the proposal will work would keep the cable companies from being able to force customers to rent a box that allows the 3rd party box to work. However, you can bet they'll charge a "bring your own device" fee to make up for the lost rental revenue. They'll probably make it higher than the rental fee, as well, to try and keep consumers from using their own box. Hopefully the FCC can make sure that won't happen as well.

    Side note: Did anyone else see Tom Wheeler being this awesome? I sure didn't! Thought for sure he was just going to be an industry shill given his past, but man, he has turned out wonderfully.
  8. matcar

    matcar Mostly banned

    It's coming. Only s matter of time, so they can adapt or die. Not that I care...
  9. jwinslow

    jwinslow A MAN OF BETRAYED JUSTICE Staff Member Tourney Pick'em Champ

    Oh I definitely care whether they die.
    BUCKYLE likes this.
  10. Abenaki

    Abenaki Ohio against the world.

    It's definitely coming. Adaptation doesn't really seem to be the strength of the cable companies.

    BUCKYLE Washed

    It's like that all across the entertainment industry. The RIAA is a fucking dinosaur that refuses to adapt. All these companies are, are leeches who attach themselves onto talent and suck it dry while abusing their customers. Fuck em all?

    This. .
    I want them to die an excruciatingly agonizing death. I just hope it's soon. Bonus if some new tech comes along that renders them useless within a 24 hr period. Some sports programming revolution that causes the masses to cut the cord and the cable companies just die. Die you sonsabitches.
    kujirakira, Abenaki and gmen6981 like this.
  12. Muck

    Muck Enjoy Every Sandwich Staff Member

    The RIAA isn't a dinosaur. It's a fucking parasite that drains the life out of it's hosts (artists).
  13. Dryden

    Dryden Sober as Sarkisian Staff Member Tech Admin

  14. Abenaki

    Abenaki Ohio against the world.

    The story is a couple days old at this point, but interesting timing from Verizon in light of the FCC moves.

    That's an odd definition of great news. Essentially what the company is trying to sell is that it's taking away an app that allows people to watch its programming on a full-size TV without a set-top box, while directing them to one that lets them watch on a tablet or phone. The mobile app is not a new thing, so the "great news" is that subscribers lost something while gaining nothing.


    The timing is a little suspicious
    Verizon's actions seem at best unfortunately timed and at worst look like the company has fired a shot back at the FCC. Dropping an app people used instead of renting a cable box right after the federal agency announced plans to try to end the industry's near-monopoly in that area looks bad.

    This seems like little more than a naked attempt to make sure customers have no way around renting a cable box. And while that may seem like a smart play from the company since box rentals are a source of significant revenue, it's a plan that may backfire.
  15. wolves2002

    wolves2002 Junior

    Might be retiring the app because Verizon has sold FIOS to Frontier. Transfer is effective on 4/1.

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