U.S. FCC wants more companies making cable boxes

“The government wants to make it easier for you to buy and use cable boxes from companies other than your cable provider,” Tali Arbel reports for The Associated Press. “This could help companies like TiVo, Roku and Apple deliver a cable feed, too, as part of their video recorders or streaming-TV devices.”

“Introducing competition could also help lower people’s cable bills. The Federal Communications Commission says that 99 percent of cable and satellite TV customers rent boxes from their cable providers, and that the price of cable boxes has nearly tripled since 1994,” Arbel reports. “The FCC says the average U.S. household pays $231 a year to rent a cable box.”

The all-new Apple TV with Siri remote and Apple TV App Store
The all-new Apple TV with Siri remote and Apple TV App Store
“FCC commissioners will vote on the proposal on Feb. 18. That would kick off a process of writing new rules, which will likely take several months,” Arbel reports. “The rules would be meant as a successor to CableCard, which lets consumers get a card from their cable companies and stick it into another box like a TiVo. CableCards were supposed to free consumers from cable boxes, but it wasn’t very popular.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Bring it on!

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    1. The problem is that the cable companies and ISP’s need a certain number of customers per mile of plant to be profitable. In many cases if the same number of customers is divided between several companies none will be profitable.

  1. Comcast needs to die. In the broadband arena Comcast allows their users to purchase their own cable modems. But in some areas they inject popup messages to the point users give in and just lease the Comcast box. If this passes they may well do the same.

    Apple needs to get into the broadband business.

  2. If the regulators do not enforce the law it will be just like CableCard, which is supposed to accomplish this already.
    The Cable cartel makes damn sure that TiVos do not work as well as their rental boxes.

    I have a TiVo Roamio in the Living Room and a Cisco Comcast Box connected to my EyeTV HD on my Desktop Mac- all on the same account. The Comcast Box works as advertised and the TiVo never quite has with certain channels like HBO and Showtime- I can watch those channels content on demand on the TiVo, but the channels do not work on the tuner. Repeated visits by Comcast people and calls to TiVo have never resolved the issue.

    My guess is that Comcast makes damn sure the experience is degraded on Third Party devices.

  3. The cable companies make the rent-to-own hucksters look like honest businessmen. How about passing a simple law that says once you’ve paid off the actual cost of a cable box, it’s yours without further “rental” fee. Just like your phone.

    Just need to throw in a couple safeguards – 1) ensure that the price is the actual price not something the companies can artificially conflate and 2) ensure that the companies don’t just start changing standards every two years to make the paid-off boxes obsolete. The latter could be accomplished by a requirement to ensure forward compatibility for x years.

    I am really pissed that I own my own DVR that used to work fine recording shows on other channels until the “modern” boxes came along. Now I can only DVR the show that the TV is tuned to. Not to fear, I can “rent” one from Verizon for only $20 per month per set….

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