The FCC's new proposal could break you free from your cable box

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has introduced a new proposal that could break you free from your cable box. Though cable companies mostly control how TV is delivered to their customers, Wheeler's proposal, if it passes, would allow tech companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft, to bring new technologies to cable TV. This could include allowing customers to ditch their cable box for hardware like an Xbox One, or new software experiences to let you watch the TV you pay for on any device in your home.

From Re/code:

This week, I am sharing a proposal with my colleagues to tear down the barriers that currently prevent innovators from developing new ways for consumers to access and enjoy their favorite shows and movies on their terms. The new rules would create a framework for providing device manufacturers, software developers and others the information they need to introduce innovative new technologies, while at the same time maintaining strong security, copyright and consumer protections.

Wheeler stresses that this proposal doesn't mandate changes to how cable TV is packaged and sold to customers, nor will customers need to get a new set-top box if they don't want it. The goal is to open up the cable box market to new innovation, and bring the modern market more in line with rules established by Congress and the FCC 20 years ago, which mandates customers be able to choose their equipment.

The proposal will need to pass a vote of the full Commission, which has not yet been set. It has already received statements of opposition from every major cable TV provider.

Source: Re/code

Joseph Keller
45 Comments
  • Cool!!!
  • Or a Windows 8 PC with Media Center! Blocking upgrades FTW!
  • C'mon... At least upgrade to Windows 8.1 with Media Center so your system will run slightly faster and remain supported for longer.
  • I did on the day it was released. I just don't put .1 after 8 every time, because to the unwashed masses there's really no difference, and I'm too lazy to worry about it. Now you made me type a reply, negating the laziness. I have to be triple lazy on my next post.
  • Lol thats a laugh if netella had his way he'd eol it early
  • Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Media Center is the same product, Actually some native features of Windows Media Center were removed from 8/8.1 (3-4 things, never mind 3rd party plugins for WMC dont work at all on 8.1). If your building a new dedicated HTPC, You cant buy the Pro Pack on 8.1 any more, so your best bet (never mind needed hardware is lower) is Windows 7. The nice thing about WMC with cablecards, it was desighted to run off a dual core CPU, ya you can use 5 year old hardware and it still runs really well. Just get a fair video card and your running 1080p video with HD audio with no problems... I have dual booted 7 and 8.1 JUST for WMC.... Sure 8.1 boots about 3-5 seconds faster but, the performance in WMC is NO difference....More features on 7 tho...
  • "It has already received statements of opposition from every major TV provider." Gee, what a surprise. Who would've thought? :P
  • This is how we know that it's a good idea. :)
  • What does the government run well? I oppose paying taxes, does that make them a good idea.
  • The Parks Service. The military. Controlling air traffic. Sending humans into space.  What do natural monopolies run well? Besides, if you get your knee jerk response off auto play, you might realize that the government isn't proposing to *run* anything. They are proposing that the television signal be opened up for innovation...by the private sector.    
  • Isn't the last one mostly sponsored by big businesses?
  • The government "runs" NASA, which was the question. Regardless, it's a moot point because the government isn't going to be running innovation, they are just taking down a barrier to it.
  • Fun fact: NASA is structured under HUD (Housing and Urban Development). That's right, the same department who plans ghetto project complexes.
  • The Secret Service is organized under the Treasury. Doesn't make them the same as the IRS. Marines are under the Department of the Navy, but aren't the Navy. Budgeting hierarchy isn't an indicator of functional affiliation.
  • Your analogy is horrible.  The Marines are not just under  the Navy in a budgeting hierarchy, they are in reality a sub branch of the Navy in simplistic terms.  Their officers are trained at the Naval Academy even. As for the Secret Service, they were created specifically to investigate counterfeiting and financial crimes.  That is what puts them under the Treasury Department, not some budgeting hierarchy.
  • My analogy is spot on. I was a Marine and they are completely different. SOME officers go to the Academy for their academic career and then move on to separate training. The Secret Service protective division is a product of budgeting hierarchy. The Secret Service, particularly the protective division, has a very different mission than the IRS. If the IRS has a failure, it is not a reflection of the Secret Service. The poster I was responding to is suggesting that because he thinks HUD is a failure that NASA is as well. I'm sorry if you can't follow the breakdown in that logic, but my examples work. Regardless, the original poster that I was responding to questioned the government running something which they are not even proposing to do. This little side pi$$ing match ignores that main point.
  • All I want right now is to get my Xbox One to have DVR capabilities via the HDMI.  It's the last thing I need to be completely happy with my XBox Ones.  If MS was allowed to replace my cable box and record video via the OneGuide the way it can OTA, I would be very happy.
  • +1 Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Ya, this can't come fast enough. I already run w10 on everything in my have and have the USB TV tuner.
  • Can you DVR ota signals now on Xbox One?
  • You get 30 minutes of pause on live TV, but that's about it. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Windows Media Center.....with a registry change, you can get 24 hours pause time, if you wanted to :)
  • I'm hopeful that this will save Tivo. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • All glitters are not gold.
  • The thing that I don't get about cord cutting is that it seems really hard to get the broadband internet to use any of these other services without maintaining that relationship with the cable company. And I get that it's probably easier to have a contract with Comcast for just internet, but they still suck.
  • I'll be fine once I get it....I'll be good.
  • If this happens, will it also include companies putting Data Caps on people? This is a major issue right now and what Comcast does in areas they monopolize. If I could leave them I would but I can't go from 180Mb down and 10Mb up to 5Mb down 1Mb up. It sucks and this needs to be stopped as it affects anyone trying to cable cut and just stream movies and tv for far less.
  • Lol my guess is it will still follow cable card like rules & things like xb1 will be meant to compliment it
  • this is awesome.  I am sick of paying $50 a month on equipment charges for 4 DirecTV cable boxes when it can be free using my XB1 or home PC/Tablets.
  • U mean like what PlayStation had been doing
  • The picture quality was lacking when I tried ShowTime on the ps4. It was ok but not near as good as the quality of Netflix or Hulu. It was cool being able to stream the live feeds but I expected better.
  • If I can pick exactly and only the stations I want without being forced into a bundle of some kind... I'd consider it.
  • That literally has nothing to do with this story.  Besides, most people only THINK they want out of bundles.  I'm finding out that ordering up individual stations for streaming at $6-$15 each isn't the bargain that you think it will be. 
  • I don't see this passing cause they make alot of money off the equipment.
  • Doesn't TiVo already do this?
  • No, Tivo uses cablecard to get DRMed channeles. They are talking software solutions that do not require cablecards.    
  • This the cablecard issue all over again. The FCC allowed 3rd party companies to sell cablecards so consumers would not have to lease equipment from the cable companies. It was a complete failure. If the FCC doesn't strongly enforce compliance, it won't work. Although Samsung and Apple have deep enough pockets to force telecom companies to follow the rules.
  • Problem is cablecards were available but, the certification process to get hardware or software cerfitied to use cablecards was VERY expensive ($100K+) and only the BIG companies could afford it. Only a few big companyes like Microsoft and Tivo used cablecards (Windows Media Center and Tivo systems) Even today, you cant walk in your cable company and say, I want a cablecard and they HAVE to give you one..
  • I was thinking about this the other day but i can't believe how old and ****** the cable box OS is for Comcast. It hasn't changed for what? 15 years or so I think. So I don't see this happening.
  • Yeah here in Phoenix Cox cable has the crappiest boxes ever, when I had DIRECTV for a while they had some nice boxes
  • Lol in Canada we had alot of SA boxes(rogers) for quite a while running a modified sara build. Since the switch to cisco its been night & day. On the smaller company(cogeblo) they've adopted TiVo
  • So, I wonder how this is going to play out. The current system works but, only with CERTIFIED cable labs hardware (Windows Media Center's play ready, Tivo, etc). If they are going to open it up to other hardware and software products, the $100K cost to certifiy something (Yea, it's like $80K to get Microsoft's play ready rights to use cablecards) is going to have to come down really low. The limitations with current cablecards are No PPV or On-demand.  I hope this makes Microsoft bring back the "eHome" team. At one point TV dev was a very large departmet over at Microsoft and that was dealing with Creating Windows Media Center. I hope this passes, with the strong hold the cable companies have, they stopped clear QAM, so you NEED a box to watch ANY tv now days, FCC let them get away with that. If this does pass, it could be a nice thing for 3rd party options, Windows Media Center wakes up and gets expanded on Windows 10, Your google boxes and Apple boxes can access all your content including premium channels (WMC is the ONLY software product that can do that right now). Crossing my fingers on this, the Home theater PC TV market has been a little stale, this would wake it right up again ! You can do SOOOOOOO MUCH with a PC as a DVR... even things that blow away your high end cable boxes...
  • Nice....
  • Hell yes don't know why most cable boxes are so big.
  • Gotta love Mr. Wheeler, that guy is not slowing down.