The Federal Communications Commission has given a thumbs up to forcing cable providers such as Comcast and Charter, to ensure interoperability for third-party set top boxes such as the Apple TV, opening the door to customers using such devices to access cable programming packages.
The proposal, which now moves into a comment period — where businesses and customers can weigh in, would allow customers to go through third parties for their set-top systems, rather than being forced to use the box provided by the cable company. The proposal still faces revisions and a final vote, which is still some months away.
Cable and satellite operators naturally were in opposition to the proposal, as they face the loss of millions of dollars int rental fees, as well as losing the valuable leverage they currently have in their customer relationships.
While customers would still need to pay a subscription fee for cable access, they would otherwise only be required to interact with the makers of the third-party boxes, such as Apple or Google. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler see this as a boon to competition, and believes it will provide the best customer experience.
“[Cable companies] and competitors should be able to differentiate themselves and compete based on the experience they offer users, including the quality of the user interface and additional features like suggested content, integration with home entertainment systems, caller ID and future innovations,”
If the plan is put into action, cable companies will be forced to provide third-party set top makers access to program listings, content licensing, and other information.
(Via The Verge)