FCC takes on cable, satellite on television set-top boxes
The box on top of your television may be holding back broadband.
That’s according to the small army of people at the Federal Communications Commission charged with figuring out how to roll out high-speed Internet to every home, make it affordable and get people to subscribe.
Here’s why they think the television set-top box is hindering broadband use: there aren’t enough of them to choose from.
The majority of users rent their boxes from their cable or satellite provider. And there isn't enough innovation on the limited number of devices they get from their provider, nor are the providers adequately dealing with access to online video, the FCC’s national broadband planning task force said in an agency meeting Wednesday.
“The marketplace is searching for better ways to connect the Internet more fully to television sets,” said Bill Lake, the FCC's media bureau chief.
The role of the set-top box was discussed as part of a larger presentation on hurdles to the agency’s national broadband goals.
Other challenges include broadcasters and the wireless sector, which are already fighting over the use of spectrum that could aid in any rollout. Rural phone carriers, meanwhile, are decrying reforms to a much-criticized federal fund that could take away money they use to deliver phone service.
Interestingly, Lake compared set-top boxes to wireless phones and other devices for mobile networks.
He said there was about 14 set top boxes to choose from compared to the 900 or so devices being manufactured for wireless networks.
“The 1996 Act fostered innovation of set-top boxes, but that market has failed to materialize,” Lake said. “Data suggests this has not fostered innovation and a variety of boxes.”
How does this connect to the adoption of broadband? If nearly every home in America has a television set, the FCC believes the living room tube can be used to drive broadband use. And a key to that is to have more innovative to cable, satellite and other television boxes (like Tivo), that bring a full Web experience to the television.
“We know that the television will increasingly become a device for Internet access. So the issue raised today is, can the presence of TVs in everyone’s home help … people who don’t have broadband for those who don’t have computers,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a press conference after the meeting.
November 18, 2009; 1:00 PM ET
Save & Share: Previous: FCC broadband planners to outline hurdles to universal access
Next: TechNet Names Rey Ramsey CEO
Posted by: obss | November 19, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: vabear | November 19, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.