AT&T Blasts FCC's Set Top Box Proposal


When the FCC laid down an official proposal for the cable industry to open up set top boxes and allow users to access their services through any devices they like, such as smart TVs, streaming sticks and tablets, it sent shockwaves through the telecom world. In essence, the FCC was stating that the concept of the cable box itself, as rented equipment necessary to access a provider's services, was broken and needed to be done away with. While their proposal was sure to mention that a traditional cable box should still be an option, it's quite clear that the de facto bundling of cable boxes to provider services was under attack. While many rose up to speak their minds on the issue, at least one company, AT&T, put in their official comment to the FCC, calling the whole thing a "radical unbundling scheme".

AT&T, in their lambasting of the proposal, cites section 629 of the Communications Act, which essentially states that consumers should always have set top boxes available to them through avenues besides their provider, if they so wish, and that anti-competitive behavior centered on these set top boxes is squarely in the Act's crosshairs. AT&T says that the proposal at hand not only has almost nothing to do with that section, but infringes on the first and fifth amendment rights of cable providers in that they will be forced to allow their content to be reframed for consumption.


AT&T's letter further states that the FCC's new proposal "would not survive legal challenge", indicating a distinct possibility that AT&T will pursue such a legal challenge, should the FCC move forward with the proposal. They also pointed to the fact that Comcast planned to enable some of their exclusive content to function on Roku sets, which lines up with Section 629, but that an FCC official basically blew that off, rather than embracing it. The American Cable Association also leaked a bit of what their comments to the FCC will be on the matter, citing the fact that providers, sometimes small regional ones, will end up with very high upgrade and software re-engineering costs as a result of the proposal, predicting that hundreds of smaller providers may jump ship from the business altogether.

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Senior Staff Writer

Daniel has been writing for Android Headlines since 2015, and is one of the site's Senior Staff Writers. He's been living the Android life since 2010, and has been interested in technology of all sorts since childhood. His personal, educational and professional backgrounds in computer science, gaming, literature, and music leave him uniquely equipped to handle a wide range of news topics for the site. These include the likes of machine learning, Voice assistants, AI technology development news in the Android world. Contact him at [email protected]

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