Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman, released his plan to break up the monopoly that cable companies have on the set-top box industry. Cable companies charge consumers monthly for their set-top boxes, with some consumers paying as much as $10 per month for each box in their home.
Wheeler revealed a plan that would require cable companies to offer subscription feeds to third-party companies and consumers for free.
Powered via apps, the feeds would allow third-party developers to offer advanced features and functionality that has remained stagnant in the entertainment industry. The plan is to be officially voted on by the FCC on September 29. It’s expected that cable companies will oppose these new recommendations.
A study shows that the average cable consumer spends $231 per year to rent their boxes.
Wheeler’s goal is to allow consumers to watch programming on devices that they already own. The chairman states that consumers should be able to watch their cable programming via their smart television, Apple TV and other devices. The plan will still allow consumers to rent their set-top box from the cable company, too.
The goal is to break the cycle of consumers being forced to use the cable company’s own set-top boxes in an area which they hold a monopoly.
Wheeler introduced a stringent plan in February that would require cable companies to offer content to third-party devices. Cable companies fought off the proposal, which has led Wheeler to revise his plan to its current form.
The proposal would save consumers billions of dollars per year and allow for competition in a market that is filled with big cable companies. In many areas, consumers have a choice of one or two cable companies with little competition.
Cable companies would have two years to adhere to the new rules.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association released a statement, stating, “The work of this licensing body would be subject to intrusive FCC oversight, creating a bureaucratic morass and improperly involving the FCC in private licensing arrangements in a way that will slow the deployment of video apps, ignore copyright protections, and infringe on consumer privacy.”