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FCC Takes First Big Step Toward Changing Cable Box Business

The decision may ultimately allow cable customers to go through third parties for their set-top systems.

The Verge

In a three-to-two vote, the FCC decided today to move ahead with a proposal that could drastically change the cable set-top box industry. The decision may have far-reaching consequences for how cable customers watch TV — ultimately allowing them to go through third parties for their set-top systems, rather than being tied to the same company they use for cable service.

The proposed rule changes will now move into a comment period — where businesses and customers will be able to weigh in — ahead of revisions and a final vote, still some months away. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler first announced the proposed rule changes last month, and it’s been met by criticism from a cable industry that has long kept the keys to the castle. Cable companies have argued that the future may leave the cable box behind entirely — focused, instead, on apps — and that the FCC is driving innovation from the wrong direction.

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