FCC delays vote on set-top box proposal, says it needs more time

By Shawn Knight ยท 6 replies
Sep 29, 2016
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  1. The Federal Communications Commission earlier this month laid out a revised proposal that would essentially unbundle proprietary set-top boxes from pay-TV providers.

    Instead, subscribers would be able to access content via apps that would be compatible with popular streaming players from companies like Amazon, Apple and Roku. It would be much like watching Netflix or Hulu on those devices as we do today.

    The FCC scheduled to vote on the proposal today but removed it from the September Open Meeting Agenda at the 11th hour.

    In a brief statement on the matter, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said they are still working to resolve the remaining technical and legal hurdles that persist. As such, the proposal will go on the commission’s circulation list and remain under consideration by the commissioners.

    In a press conference following today’s meeting (to tend to other matters on the docket), Wheeler said commissioners were still tweaking the proposal last night and simply ran out of time for today’s vote. Even with the delay, Wheeler said he aims to get the new rules in place by the end of the year.

    Set-top box rentals are big business for pay-TV providers in the US. Survey results from a year ago revealed that nearly 99 percent of pay-TV customers in the US rent a set-top box directly from their provider at an average cost of $231.82 per year.

    If the proposal passes, one could simply purchase a Roku streaming player for as little as $30, own it outright and watch their pay-TV subscription as well as content from over-the-top streaming providers all in one place.

    Permalink to story.

  2. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    Surprised there isn't an article about ICANN today. Seems far more significant than this.
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,329   +1,976

    No surprise there ... the cable companies have been trying to mount a major campaign to change the FCC's mind. WHile it's not feasible I wish they would declare the cable pathways like the airways and push the cable companies back towards living on their ad revenues or at LEAST force the cable companies to make everything ala'cart so we could pick and choose what channels we want to watch.

    Charter has started plucking the good channels out of their lower grade packages to force everyone to upgrade. By my calculation, after they do the next two it will be more to my advantage by cost and performance to go to DISH and dump the Charter TV package all together. How can so many companies maintain such dumb standards and expect to survive????
  4. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,887   +1,223

    Comcast and Time Warner aren't going to just say 'oh well... I guess we'll just have to take a loss on the boxes now...' no.. they'll just raise the monthly subscription fees and then give away the box for free. Problem solved. Sure, you'll be able use your own box, but you'll still be paying the higher price for cable.

    They won't ever declare cable like the airways because cable costs money to lay and costs money to repair after a storm.

    Cable is getting creamed by streaming services - we should just be happy they haven't imposed data plans yet on most of us.
  5. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 747   +357

    When was the last time you saw any company lay new cables? Repair? Yes. Install new? Probably not since the 90s in most areas. They have far and away recouped their install costs, and their customer base more than pays for maintenance. See the municipal ISPs that are popping up, doing nearly the same thing (laying cable, maintaining it), but are charging a fraction of the price and still turning a profit.

    That said, I'll be surprised if this proposal ever sees the light of day again. It will stay 'tabled' but I'm betting the cable companies were able to apply enough pressure to get it killed. Saying it is 'on hold' is just so the FCC can save face.
  6. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,887   +1,223

    What's your point? having a cable run to every home is more expensive than OTA signals - this isn't really debatable.

    My point is - are you sure you want the cable companies to lose this? When the govt makes a law that costs companies money those costs get passed down to the customers - and it makes it even harder for a new company to enter the industry.
  7. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 747   +357

    My point is that they have been posting record profits ever since they 'finished' building the coax network. They aren't updating cables, they aren't laying fiber optics. Their maintenance costs do not justify their subscription costs - and when was the last time you saw a new cable company in your neighborhood? Never mind a truly new one at all? I mean new from something other than a merger or spin-off.

    If they are foolish enough to pass on the loss of cable box rentals to the consumer, then you'll just watch even more consumers choose to just cut the cable subscription all together. Allowing anyone to make cable boxes, like anyone can already make modems, just means that you're going to see better hardware. You're going to see Roku, Amazon, and Google put out some really impressive set-top boxes that won't just be glorified 'youtube machines'.

    Anything that breaks up the Cable Cabals is a very good thing in my book, even if it is only a small amount with this case (which I still don't think will actually happen)

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