The FCC wants to open up the pay TV set-top box market to all

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has introduced a proposal that'll give consumers more choices when it comes to selecting a cable or satellite set-top box.

At present, nearly all television subscribers pay a monthly fee to rent a set-top box from their provider. As The Verge notes, this is largely a result of back and forth fighting between tech companies and cable companies on how to authenticate service signals. The cable companies have more or less won the battle but the war is far from over.


The FCC wants to create a new standard that would put control back in the hands of customers, allowing them to select the set-top box they want versus what's offered by their television provider.

As you may know, this isn't the first time we've been down this road. Remember CableCard? That endeavor ultimately failed because, as the publication correctly points out, cable companies controlled the platform. While not all that long ago, we're living in a different era with plenty of tech companies chomping at the bit to control the pay TV interface and gain valuable data about its customers.

Cable providers, as you can imagine, aren't too keen on the idea, largely because they earn billions of dollars in revenue from set-top box rentals. Taking a huge chunk out of that revenue stream is something they have no interest in which is why more than 40 telecoms and other groups are planning to band together to fight the proposal.

Image courtesy Bloomberg News

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Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
I wish they had jurisdiction over Canadian cable... at least you Americans have a few choices... I have 2 - Bell or Rogers - and they're pretty much colluding to make sure my choice is irrelevant :(
 

Will86c

TS Enthusiast
I wish they had jurisdiction over Canadian cable... at least you Americans have a few choices... I have 2 - Bell or Rogers - and they're pretty much colluding to make sure my choice is irrelevant :(
Eh, it's not much better. In several places, you might only have one choice if you want cable. For where I live if I want internet faster than 24mbp/s my only option is Comcast.
 

p51d007

TS Evangelist
The cable companies will lobby (ie: pay millions to politicians) to keep it the way it is,
and will use the "you take that away from us, and we'll raise rates through the roof",
which will cause people to cut the cord even more.
 
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Evernessince

TS Evangelist
I wish they had jurisdiction over Canadian cable... at least you Americans have a few choices... I have 2 - Bell or Rogers - and they're pretty much colluding to make sure my choice is irrelevant :(
More or less the same in the US. I have verizion fios and time warner but neither of them compete on price or speed.
 

Currahee

TS Rookie
I dont know why we cant go back to when we used to have C and K Band satellite and choose our programming ala-cart (sp?) I really enjoyed my big ole satellite dish (even though you had to turn it like an antenna to search for satellites) I could choose and pay for the channels I wanted, I could get live feeds from around the world...I know it was old technology but when the current satellite companies started putting their hands in our politicians pockets that is when we lost our choices and freedoms to negotiate as a consumer.
 
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Camikazi

TS Evangelist
I dont know why we cant go back to when we used to have C and K Band satellite and choose our programming ala-cart (sp?) I really enjoyed my big ole satellite dish (even though you had to turn it like an antenna to search for satellites) I could choose and pay for the channels I wanted, I could get live feeds from around the world...I know it was old technology but when the current satellite companies started putting their hands in our politicians pockets that is when we lost our choices and freedoms to negotiate as a consumer.
Because they learned that forcing you to get multiple channels as a package and charging you a crap ton more makes for better profits.