The Comcast XI3 cable box held for a photograph during the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) Cable Show in Washington, D.C., U.S., on June 11, 2013.
Photograph by Andrew Harrer — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Cable companies don't want them.

By Jonathan Chew
January 27, 2016

The Federal Communications Commission is reportedly proposing new regulations that could give cable customers a choice of buying their own set-top boxes instead of renting the default company-offered device.

This move could potentially lower cable bills, as subscribers currently pay rental fees for set-top boxes that advocates say are too expensive.

The new proposal, according to the Wall Street Journal, gives customers an option on whether to use their service provider’s set-top box and cable app, or peruse the market for competing choices. This could challenge the status quo for companies like Comcast cmcsa , DirecTV dtv , and Time Warner twx , while providing an easier route into the living room for third-party providers like TiVo tivo and even Google goog .

The leasing of set-top boxes has been a financial boon for cable companies, according to a report issued by lawmakers last year. In July, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) estimated that the set-top box rental market may be worth around $19.5 billion to cable companies, and the average annual cost of having these cable boxes came to $232 per household. They based that off a calculation that the average home had around 2.6 set-top boxes.


Two consumer groups, the Consumer Federation of America and Public Knowledge, sent a letter to the FCC at the beginning of this year with an estimate that subscribers were overpaying by $6 billion to $14 billion annually through the payment of these fees.

It would seem the FCC is making a move to address the alleged overcharging, and according to the Journal, cable service providers will mount a resistance to the proposal. More than 40 telecommunications and media groups are expected to announce a coalition to oppose the plan by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, reported The Journal.


You May Like