The Federal Communications Commission has approved a proposal that would let users get their cable through more devices than the standard cable box issued by your telecom provider. This means that instead of having to rent a box from the likes of Time Warner, you can simply add your cable subscription onto your existing devices, such as Apple TV, Fire TV, Android TV and Roku.
Today, I am proud that the @FCC has moved forward on a pro-competitive #UnlockTheBox proposal.
— Tom Wheeler (@TomWheelerFCC) February 18, 2016
So why does it matter?
Although it’s far from an official ruling, this is a major victory for tech companies and users alike. More competition means lower prices for consumers, and maybe even a reduction in cable cost. Although you’ll still need a cable subscription to benefit, you won’t have to rent an expensive set top box, and cut down on the number of boxes and devices cluttering your living room. Maybe this proposal is what Apple needs to start its long-rumored TV streaming service.
Letting consumers use their own devices may even help low-income and minority viewers. Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition sat down with Motherboard to discuss this issue, saying:
“The state of media for minorities in this country is terrible…I’m paying over $150 per month for cable—what the hell am I getting for my money? If [the US Latino population] were three Mexicans and two Puerto Ricans this wouldn’t be an issue,” he said, “but we’re 18 percent of the population. Affordable set-top boxes are a necessity, not just in terms of costs but in terms of the democratic traditions of this country. These people need to be connected to the society of this country.”