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  • FCC Approves Set Top Box Competition
Technology Articles > Entertainment > Televisions > FCC Approves Set Top Box Competition

Today, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) made a major move. It is now legal within the United States for consumers to purchase ‘video services’ from providers other than cable providers. To break it down even more: you can now buy your TV from Google instead of Comcast. Yeah, that’s big news!

What This Means to You

Ever since the dawn of time (okay, maybe not that long, but it seems that way!) cable companies have had a monopoly on television. If you wanted to watch TV, you had to purchase a cable box through a cable company, and then pay those hefty package feeds in order to watch what you want. Since most people pay over $100 for good channels, the price of watching television is high.

Then came technology and companies like Alphabet, Inc. (Google), Apple, and TiVo. While these companies have been around for some time now, cable companies saw the threat and protested - much like cab drivers are currently protesting Uber. Today, though, the FCC finally gave into technology (and, let’s face it, industry) by allowing companies that aren’t standard cable companies to offer television services to consumers.

If you’re thinking that this means cheaper cable, you’re right - but there’s more to this story.

A La Carte

It’s entirely frustrating when a cable company suckers you into buying a whole package just for the channels that you want to see. If you want to watch HBO, for example, you’re stuck with TLC too. Or you may want to watch the Food Network, but in order to do that you’ll have to buy the package with the terrible movie channels as well -- all adding up to lots of dollars, of course.

Before cable companies had any competition, they could get away with sky high package prices -- but competition has arrived, and it’s going to be stiff. Other companies (let’s just call them the ‘ant-cable companies’) may just plan on offering a la carte options. So if you want just HBO and the Food Network, you can pay for just those two channels without being side-armed into subscribing to other channels that you don’t want.

Sounds like a dream come true, right? Well, those cable companies aren’t going to go down without a fight.

Apps Galore Too

The other really awesome thing about the new FCC ruling is that most anti-cable companies offer apps instead of set top boxes. So you don’t have to purchase a box for $200+ per year. You can just use an app across various devices instead. What the FCC did today by approving set top box competition is ground-breaking, but cable companies are contesting this ruling.

There are definitely two sides to this story. Many are for and against the ruling, and the FCC will have to answer to concerns shortly. For now, though, the ruling stands, and anti-cable companies can now offer apps in lieu of pricey set top boxes. Finally, consumers wanting to watch cable now have a choice that doesn’t come with a hefty box rental fee.