FCC votes to approve cable television set-top box competition

By Amy R. Connolly  |  Feb. 18, 2016 at 12:38 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to move forward with a proposal that could allow consumers to go through third parties for their cable television set-top box systems, a move that could lower cable bills.

The proposal, which now heads to public comment, will allow consumers to swap out pricey cable boxes for inexpensive generic boxes or apps. The move has come under fierce opposition by cable and satellite firms.

The commission voted 3-2 with Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly dissenting. The set-top box, also known as a cable box or digital converter, converts a signal into content that can be viewed on television.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he backs the proposal because it will boost competition and give consumers the choice to rent a device from their television provider or purchase one on their own. The average consumer pays $231 a year to lease set-top boxes.

"Nothing in this proposal slows down or stops cable innovation," Wheeler said.

The final vote is expected to come later this year.

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