back to article FCC clicks off the safety, fires at America's great cable TV box rip-off

US broadband watchdog the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has approved a proposal Thursday to put an end to the closed cable box rental – aka the biggest rip-off in America. Under the "notice of proposed rulemaking," put forward last month by the regulator's chairman Tom Wheeler, all cable companies will be obliged to …

  1. asdf

    wrong

    >aka the biggest rip-off in America.

    No that would be giving these cable pigopolists regional monopolies without requiring common carrier. Crony capitalism for all to see (ie government picking winners). In Arizona these cable industry asshats actually had the balls to put one of their paid lobbists on the state corporation commission (regulator) and it took far longer than it should have for her to resign.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > The end result, however, is notoriously big, ugly and poorly functioning boxes.

    You've got that right.

    In front of my TV I have a PVR from Shaw Cable that dwarfs the full size DVD player under it on the shelf.

    Right next to it, I have a Raspberry Pi in a tiny credit-card sized box that (apart from the disk drive) has the same capabilities and far more connection options.

  3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    That argument seems like...the telco companies' claims that they would have no choice but to limit investment in broadband if net neutrality rules were passed – the opposite of which has happened.

    Have you told Andrew?

    1. Santa from Exeter

      They tried, but he just stood there with his fingers in his ears going 'La,La,La'

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't we kind of have this now with TiVo?

    They offer a full (much better) replacement for cable boxes now. I have zero Comcast equipment in my house except for the Cablecard in the TiVo box. And interestingly, TiVo adds advertising on top of the programming - subtle, yes, you only see one-line promos for stuff when you press the pause key, but it's there. So will they have to stop doing this now?

    1. Preston Munchensonton

      Re: Don't we kind of have this now with TiVo?

      Yes. The same can be accomplished with an HDHomeRun Prime + PC running Windows Media Center + CableCard. I use this solution myself with XBox 360 consoles providing the set top box attached to my TVs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't we kind of have this now with TiVo?

      TiVo = rip-off in itself.

      You're paying a monthly TiVo "service" fee for a subscription to an imaginary service. At most, they transcribe the TV Guide info (they have an old '386 PC in somebody's basement?), and they condescend to reset "your" (LOL) TiVo box's authorization flag so you can keep using it (rather nice of them).

      Makes my head hurt even thinking about their business model.

      It'd be more ethical to sell Indulgences.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't we kind of have this now with TiVo?

        We bought Tivo boxes with lifetime membership -- no monthly fees. Well worth it.

        Though I understand Tivo want to discontinue that offer for new units going forward. I don't see continuing with Tivo if we have to "rent" the gear or pay monthly for the service at some point, for all the reasons you say.

        1. Commswonk Silver badge

          Re: Don't we kind of have this now with TiVo?

          "Though I understand Tivo want to discontinue that offer for new units going forward."

          The "going forward" nearly triggered a downvote...

          Ugh!

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Don't we kind of have this now with TiVo?

            The "going forward" nearly triggered a downvote...

            Conversely, Tivo have promised to continue the offer going backward, for those living in negative time zones. Of course it's still a limited-time offer, due to expire sometime in 1999.

          2. Kurt Meyer

            @Commswonk

            Amen, Brother.

            I am very interested to hear your thoughts regarding "gifted".

            I would cheerfully spend eternity in Hell if everyone who ever used that word was at my side.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't we kind of have this now with TiVo?

          AC "I don't see continuing with Tivo if we have to....pay monthly for the service..."

          TiVo "service"?

          What exactly is this TiVo "service" of which you refer to?

          A guide? That's worth precisely $0.05 / month.

          The authorization flag reset so "your" (LOL) TiVo box keeps working?

          What "service"?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't we kind of have this now with TiVo?

      Cable card has been a failure. Tivo is the only competitor in that market anyone has ever heard of, and their volume is so tiny that their pricing is outrageous due to the lack of competition. Less than 1% of people bring their own device and rent a cable card. Cable cards are one way only, and don't support the cable company's VOD (which is growing more and more important in today's streaming world) except for a couple of companies that actually support that on a Tivo despite not being required to.

      They want to replace that failed standard with something modern - something software based instead of a physical card. Software easily allows that and networks trust it in a way they didn't back in the 90s when Napster made them worry that stealing their content and trading it online for free would be next. They have to trust it because it is using for streaming/VOD content today.

      Don't you want to be able to buy a TV that you could just connect to your cable and have it able to work properly with all the channels, show a guide, play VOD content, etc.? That's what they are trying to accomplish here (maybe, hopefully a bit more so you could use a device like a Tivo and your TV would display its guide instead of the cable company's guide so you wouldn't have to depend on what features they give you, but that may be hoping for too much)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't we kind of have this now with TiVo?

        "Don't you want to be able to buy a TV that you could just connect to your cable and have it able to work properly with all the channels, show a guide, play VOD content, etc.?"

        Isn't that what the Conditional Access (?) PCMCIA-sized slots in any decent European TV (or "video recorder" have been intended for for the last decade or more? Not that I've ever seen one actually used (I lead a sheltered life), but they exist and are based on standards etc.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conditional-access_module

        1. Warm Braw Silver badge

          Re: Don't we kind of have this now with TiVo?

          Isn't that what the Conditional Access (?) PCMCIA-sized slots in any decent European TV (or "video recorder" have been intended for

          Up to a point. However, the program guide (beyond now/next) isn't standardised - each platform is different. And there is no legitimate CA module for Sky, for example, as far as I am aware.

          The regulations were arguably well-intentioned, but never really carried through to the extent the FCC appear now to have done.

      2. Wade Burchette Silver badge

        Re: Don't we kind of have this now with TiVo?

        "Cable card has been a failure."

        CableCard has been a failure because cable companies want them to be a failure. The rental fee of a CableCard is much less than the rental fee of a cable box.

        I bought a refurbished TiVo Roamio on sale with a lifetime subscription and a TiVo Mini for $600. For my cable company, a DVR is $14/month and a cable box is $7. They offer TiVo rentals, and the prices are the same for the corresponding devices. A CableCard is $6 for the first, $4 for each additional. So I saved $15/month, which is $15 less for my cable company. In 40 months, or 3 years 4 months, I will come out positive.

        Since then, I have bought two other TiVo mini and a MoCA adapter and a MoCA filter because I had another TV without a nearby network adapter. Because I shopped around, all that cost me $280. So, instead of $35/month ($14 + $7 + $7 + $7) for 4 TV's, I now pay $6 month with $820 in equipment. My cable company is $29 poorer each month because of this. And now, in 29 months I come out positive.

        Let us pretend that the average user for my cable company is somewhere in between, say 3 TV for $28/month. If 1,000 people did what I did, the cable company would make $22,000 less each month. If only 1,000 people did what I did, the cable company loses a lot of money. Now imagine if 10,000 people did. Do you see why the cable companies wants CableCard to be a failure? Do you see why they want to bribe politicians to block this?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Don't we kind of have this now with TiVo?

          "My cable company is $29 poorer each month because of this."

          Not quite. They no longer have to support that box and repair/replace it. Likewise I would bet that any support calls you make that might possibly be related to the "box" will be terminated with, "sorry sir, I'm afraid it's your equipment at fault and we don't support it"

          I could see cableco's eventually getting on board with this idea and eventually dumping their own brand cable boxes, or at least encouraging customers to buy instead of rent, preferably from a 3rd party then they can get rid of a load of support staff, both on the phones and on the road.

  5. Not_The_Droids

    Good. And not just the big ugly box

    But the little box as well. TWC has gone digital for most channels, so every TV requires a small box (Cisco DTA), but some TVs get the big box (traditional cable box/DVR). They charge $2.50/mo for each small box (about the size of a Roku), and $10 a month for the big one.

    I am so sick of the games I have to play with TWC - calling them and asking to change 'packages' every year to keep my bill under $150/mo. Otherwise they jump it to the $180 range.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      $150 a month?

      I may be naive, but what on earth do you get for $150 a month? That's gotta be about £100 at the moment?

      Scratch that. I was about to comment that even Virgin and Sky don't charge that amount over here, then I went to check (being a customer of neither) only to discover that Virgin cable seems to be offering 230 TV channels, phone and broadband for £97 a month (£59 + £18 "line rental") and that doesn't include much in the way of free phone calls, while Sky want £75 a month just for the TV with basic broadband and a minimal call package being £14 plus £18 line rental for a grand total of £107!

      How on earth do people justify that amount of spend?

      Yes, I know there are cheaper TV packages available - I was looking for the ones that match that £100. I can't make snarky comments about the US given that our cable providers are just as bad.

      We find quite enough TV available on the "free" systems (Freeview / Freesat) to occupy us, and our combined bill for landline (all calls bundled), broadband and four mobile phones (various deals, but vary rarely any call or text or data charges) comes to under £60 most months, and I don't like paying even that amount.

      M.

      1. MrWibble

        Re: $150 a month?

        Without wishing to derail too much £59 + £18 = £77, not £97

        But you can easily add more into that by adding sky sports / movies (I've got it up to £115, without adding some of the more obscure stuff)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: $150 a month?

        "How on earth do people justify that amount of spend?"

        It's the money they've saved by not having proper public healthcare?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: $150 a month?

          "It's the money they've saved by not having proper public healthcare?"

          We still don't have proper public healthcare.

          Come to think of it, we still don't have proper private healthcare either.

      3. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        Re: $150 a month?

        "I may be naive, but what on earth do you get for $150 a month?"

        While I cannot speak for anyone but myself, I pay Cox Communications $150/month for television (about 350 channels including HBO, ESPN+, etc), 50Mbps internet, and IP telephony. When my "bundle" price runs out in another six months, I'll drop the telephony and add an Ooma Telo or something similar. Mrs. Kiddingme doesn't like the idea of going cellular-only. Besides, the cell signal in my area is sometimes a bit iffy so something resembling a "landline" phone is warranted. Just like my Tivos for television, an Ooma device can be "buy once, use forever" if you don't need their "premium" features.

      4. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: $150 a month?

        > I may be naive, but what on earth do you get for $150 a month? That's gotta be about £100 at the moment?

        .

        That's why we dropped cable entirely. Now we just have Crapcast for internet and phone. For the couple of shows we really wanted to watch, it wasn't worth the extra $80/month. Especially since the vast majority of what I was watching was on Netflix, Hulu/Funimation or Crunchyroll anyway.

  6. Someone Else Silver badge
    WTF?

    Ajit...is that pronounced "eejit"?

    [Republican commissioner Ajit] Pai argued that the FCC should be focusing not on opening up the cable box but eliminating it altogether, and reiterated cable company claims that the rules would see them produce a second box for consumers to go with their old existing box – hence more boxes.

    As Commission chairman Wheeler acidly pointed out, that is patent bullshit. But hey, let Comcast and the rest of the legal pirates throw a corporate temper tantrum, and create yet another box that "must be used along with the current box" to receive content. What's the over-under for how long at least two competitors come out with a single box that is a) cheaper, and b) more functional than the incumbent's tandem? (I'd set the initial line at two weeks....)

    El Reg, we need a bullshit icon!

    1. RedneckMother

      Re: Ajit...is that pronounced "eejit"?

      err... "yes".

      No - wait! It's "idjit".

      Nah, that's not it, either... "pawn?"

      mmm... "patsy."

      Nope - "employee."

      oh, never mind...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ... putting extra advertising around other people's content....

    Like this sobering view of the future?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hj7c0J_V1L8

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ... putting extra advertising around other people's content....

      20 minutes into the future

      https://youtu.be/0wN9NXL2f8s?t=95

  8. Efros

    Cable TV

    is possibly the only business where you can increase the rental on a 10 year old piece of equipment which runs as if it's broken and for the most part get away with it. The digital box mentioned above was supposed to be for old style analogue TVs but by the time it was released it had suddenly transformed into a required item for all TVs not directly connected to a Cable Box or DVR Box. When I recently replaced my cable TV service with satellite TV my monthly power bill dropped by $10, the space heaters that were the old motorola DVRs issued by TWC were replaced by a wireless DVR system with 5 times as much storage, admittedly they don't have the ability to toast your crumpets when recording a couple of channels but I'll live with that. Incidentally I took the plunge when our cable/internet/phone package reached $240 per month, that is with no premium channels, 2MB/20MB internet and a landline. With our new provider we pay $70 for TV we still have to pay $65 a month to TWC, and that breaks my heart, but there is no alternative hereabouts except dialup.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      @Efros -- Re: Cable TV

      and that breaks my heart, but there is no alternative hereabouts except dialup.

      And therein lies the problem. No competition, no reason to "do better", or at least hold the charges down. I read the comments from those across the pond moaning about the service, etc. and how they change ISPs/telcos/cable companies. At least they have a choice and lower prices for what appears to be the same crappy service we have.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cable TV

      "our cable/internet/phone package reached $240 per month, that is with no premium channels, 2MB/20MB internet and a landline."

      And remember, readers in Europe, this is the kind of thing that TTIP aims to bring to us all.

    3. Da Weezil

      Re: Cable TV

      "we still have to pay $65 a month to TWC, and that breaks my heart, but there is no alternative hereabouts except dialup."

      XE tells me that that equates to £45 per month I'm assuming that is for the2/20 you mention in you post Here in the UK, for £37 I get 80/20 Fibre to the Cabinet service (The copper link from my place to the street cab loses me 7 Mbps so it works out at 73 Mbps) Unmetered of course and that isn't with one of the budget providers - I could do it a LOT cheaper if I wanted to endure dire Support. admittedly I have to add line rental to that - but again as its only the wires I need I have a basic connection only deal that costs me £10 per month. No wonder my Buddy in WV keeps saying he hates my internet and how lucky I am here. I have a legacy package on Sky (satellite) that costs me just shy of $42 per month and the HD box they provided at the start of the contract a few years back is now "mine" - as soon as it passed out of contract the box was upgraded by me to a bigger hard drive

      You guys sure do get shafted.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cable TV

        Not only that, if it's the ISP it looks like, one of its top chaps (Adrian Kennard) is one of the most vociferous technocritics of the anti-encryption law currently being proposed in the UK.

  9. Graham Marsden
    Holmes

    Anyone...

    ... checked their Campaign Contributions...?

  10. AdamWill

    tweedledum and tweedledee

    Cableco #1: "...The FCC's thumb on the scales will inevitably straightjacket innovation..."

    Cableco #2: "...puts the Commission's thumb on the scale by endorsing..."

    they've really given up on pretending they're not a cartel, haven't they? Do they just have one PR department between the lot of 'em, to save a bit of money for spending on the executive suites?

  11. JeffyPoooh
    Pint

    Power consumption

    "...paying an average of $231 a year. ...notoriously big, ugly and poorly functioning boxes."

    As other commenters have already touched on, you neglected to mention that they're typically horrifically inefficient 'power hogs'.

    Perhaps the US Administration should permit Cable Box rentals to continue, but mandate a maximum power consumption scale that would force quick retirement and replacement of the worst of the worst in terms of power consumption.

    A gigawatt here and a gigawatt there adds up. Might be able to turn off a couple of coal fired power stations.

  12. Numen

    Anyone remember Bell system DAAs?

    Sure sounds similar. When you wanted to attach non-Bell equipment to the network, you had to have their adapter (DAA) so you wouldn't damage the network. They made that stick for about 8-10 years, as I recall.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=QLZG2v-kw7sC&pg=PA9&lpg=PA9&dq=telephone+network+daa&source=bl&ots=6LjWKom2st&sig=mS4vsvR6dy2lKJBJwnvTrIiksoA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj4mZXe3YLLAhVN-mMKHdINBwoQ6AEINjAE#v=onepage&q=telephone%20network%20daa&f=false

    1. mIRCat
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Anyone remember Bell system DAAs?

      You beat me to that comment.

      You can't plug that in here, YOU'LL CRASH THE NETWORK! Repeat ad nauseum, Christmas Story style.

      Paris.. Something about shooting her eye out.

  13. Neoc

    Foxtel in OZ

    One of the *many* reasons I dropped Foxtel was that in order to watch their channels you not only needed *their* decoder card but it also had to be placed inside one of *their* boxes. Anything else, and you got static.

    So since I wanted to run everything through my HTPC...

    1. thomas k

      Re: Foxtel in OZ

      I dropped my Hulu subscription when some of the programs I was watching suddenly required a valid cable subscription to watch. I mean, WTF?!!! If I had cable TV why would I be using Hulu in the first place?

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: Foxtel in OZ

        > I dropped my Hulu subscription when some of the programs I was watching suddenly required a valid cable subscription to watch. I mean, WTF?!!! If I had cable TV why would I be using Hulu in the first place?

        .

        Yes, I hate taht bit, especially when the channels you want to watch are loaded with commercials. I mean, Hello? You're running commercials on it, so you're **already** getting paid for them. In the end I just say "you don't want me to watch your shows? That's fine with me. I'm quite happy NOT to watch them. Goodbye suckers." We have AcornTV for the British shows, once I'm working again I'll subscribe to Crunchyroll and perhaps the high-end Hulu to get all those shows without commercials, and we have Netflix for.... Um.... Well, we had it for something/

  14. RedneckMother

    le -sigh-

    'USTelecom said: "The Federal Communications Commission's decision today to insert itself into how video should be delivered to American consumers is unlikely to serve consumers or competition ... The FCC's thumb on the scales will inevitably straightjacket innovation and harm competition, neither of which will serve the public interest."'

    Consumers?

    Let's refocus... on CUSTOMERS.

    Geez, I'm getting tired of this refrain.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: le -sigh-

      Tell that to the INVESTORS. Fiduciary duty demands investors come first.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: le -sigh-

        "Fiduciary duty demands investors come first."

        I know we're talking about the US here, but the same claim is repeatedly made in the UK, and yet it is untrue.

        Section 172 of the 2006 Companies Act (look it up) specifically says company Directors must consider the interests of employees, suppliers, community, environment etc, and not just in a short term context either.

        Obviously nobody ever bothers with this, and the consequences of ignoring it are nil, but this is The Law as it has been in the UK for a few years.

        Presumably the US has no such equivalent, in theory or in practice?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: le -sigh-

          "Presumably the US has no such equivalent, in theory or in practice?"

          No. In fact, if a company looks at customers first without considering the investors, the investors can SUE the company for failure of fiduciary duty and be compensated for it. Remember, the investors are the actual owners of the company (it's their money on the line), so property rights kick in, and doing something against an owner's wishes is considered defrauding that owner.

          "Obviously nobody ever bothers with this, and the consequences of ignoring it are nil, but this is The Law as it has been in the UK for a few years."

          Because it's very, VERY hard to tell an owner what to do with the stuff he/she owns. They can legally argue that laws that limit an owner are a restraint on their property rights and thus an unfair limit on their freedoms. The only reason the UK can get away with it is because, due to the precedent of the superiority of the Crown, property rights aren't as strong, but in just about any country, no owner is forced by law to provide service of any kind. Push come to shove, they can pack up and leave taking everything with them. Economics pretty much foretells this fate if the Supply and Demand curves stop intersecting.

        2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: le -sigh-

          > Section 172 of the 2006 Companies Act (look it up) specifically says company Directors must consider the interests of employees, suppliers, community, environment etc, and not just in a short term context either.

          .

          My god, IBM would NEVER survive under *that* law...

  15. Charles 9 Silver badge

    One thing that should be noted in the article is that, until just now, cablecos were still transmitting a baseline of channels in analog that was capable of being picked up by cable-ready TVs without additional equipment.

    BUT those analog channels are going away to make room for more broadband and more HD channels (the analog channels can't do due to anachronistic limitation), and the cablecos won't unscramble the baseline digital channels, noting the satellite and fiber companies don't have to.

    So no a fair-sized chunk of customers are about to be left in the lurch with old TVs that won't be able to pick up ANY channels without plunking more money down to the cablecos every month. I suspect this is one other big reason for the FCC's decision today.

    As for building it into TVs, they tried that with DCAS but given the continual pace of technology it's best to leave the tuner part out of the TV in case standards change again in the future (the original CableCard standard, for example, had to be upgraded because it only worked in one direction--stuff like Video on Demand requires the ability to talk back). Perhaps an alternative would be a standardized way to insert add-on modules to the backs of large-enough TVs so that people only need one remote to handle all their video (perhaps via HDMI-CEC) and don't need to dangle boxes and stuff where there may not be any shelves (wall-mounted TV).

  16. pdlane
    Alien

    Cheep....

    I use an "over-the-air" antenna.... thus do not subscribe to any of the cable trash...

    Granted I do not receive some of the proprietary commercial garbage....

    FYI... for those of you on the other side of the pond... The FCC requires all tv stations to broadcast "over-the-air".

    "over-the-air" reception is limited to distance from the broadcast antenna, although I am able to receive stations within a 50 mile radius

    An "over-the-air" antenna currently sells for under US$20 and uses no power....

    All current model tv have the capability for receiving "over-the-air" network broadcasting

    I pay a minimal fee for internet and a separate minimal fee for telephone...

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Cheep....

      Problem being the reception can be hit or miss plus those "cheap" antennas only work if you're in a good area. If you're nestled in a valley or have things like trees blocking your skyline, you're likely SOL. Trust me, I've tried. Used to be cablecos sent those stations in the clear but won the argument that satellite providers are required to scramble due to technical limitations (namely, due to the wide coverage of satellites, they have to broadcast ALL the local stations at once and limit the stations at the receiver end).

      Plus the FCC mandate only applies to local terrestrial broadcast stations: typically no more than a handful of stations at once (usually 3 or 4, maybe 7 or 8 if you're lucky, plus most are beholden to the big networks, including NBC which is owned by Comcast). Your average nonbroadcast TV provider offers about 50 channels on the low end and over 100 with the standard packages.

      1. Snipp

        Re: Cheep....

        If you live in a decent sized market, you'll get far more than 3-8 channels. I get over 20 OTA channels in a city of 250k people.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Cheep....

          Yours is NOT a decent-sized market. I'm in a community of around 100,000, the coverage map says I can get 4, maybe 5, but because of the geography it also says I'll need an amplified directional antenna to get most of them.

        2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          > If you live in a decent sized market, you'll get far more than 3-8 channels. I get over 20 OTA channels in a city of 250k people.

          .

          Out here we can get all of ZERO channels OTA. I counted them. Twice.

      2. pdlane

        Re: Cheep....

        Re: the FCC mandate only applies to local terrestrial broadcast stations

        I also receive some 20+ international stations via a broadcaster who re-broadcasts satellite including RT...CCC (China)...SKorea...Blue (Singapore).. etc. Free and without commercials

        Thus I do not have to suffer through the corporate controlled MSM non-news,

        Yes... I live in a major metropolitan area...and am aware of the terrestrial and weather problems with OTA

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cheep....

      We tried that here in New York City since we watch minimal TV. However, the cost of just internet and landline (which I need for work, since despite living within view of the Empire State Building my cell phone service is unreliable) is actually *higher* than the cost of the bundled TV plus internet plus phone.

      And of course there's a local monopoly, so only one provider.

    3. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      Re: Cheep....

      PDLane "The FCC requires all tv stations to broadcast over-the-air."

      The very definition of a TV "station" is that it broadcasts over the air, so your claim is circularly and trivially correct (i.e. meaningless). Otherwise it's a TV 'channel' (of the sort only available on Cable, Satellite, Internet).

      "...Granted I do not receive some..."

      Some? You certainly spelled 'almost all' incorrectly. You may have heard the expression "500-channel universe". Our satellite provider offers about 520 channels last time I counted. We subscribe to the several hundred channels we like. You're not likely getting very far into the double-digits channel count over-the-air.

      And you're certainly not getting any of the 'really good' channels, as they're by subscription only.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile

    some people ignore the supplied cable box, and use the bundled broadband to access the content they want. When they want it (bypassing artificial staggered release dates) and without ads.

    It may not be lawful. But it's understandable.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile

      Depends. My cable provider provides this service gratis with whatever service is already in use (doesn't even go against the data cap), but not all are like that, and remember that many providers have data caps. Accessing the content you want runs the very real risk of being charged for overage, meaning they get you either way.

  18. Aaron 10
    Thumb Up

    Why resist?

    Cable companies should be ecstatic! No longer do they have to repair/replace/troubleshoot faulty cable boxes. They can get rid of the army of employees needed to maintain those boxes, not to mention all the shipping back-and-forth.

    Now, cable companies can provide the content (which is relatively easy) and Internet service, and leave the difficult stuff of dealing with CPE (customer premise equipment) to third parties, who have to adhere to standards. Should really make things easier.

  19. stringyfloppy

    Great news!

    I hope this goes into effect, and soon. It's ridiculous how aggressively the cable companies pursue people who don't return their 6-year-old, outmoded, desperately-in-need-of-retirement set-top boxes. As if anyone has time to bring that crap to some remote, local cable office at the same time that they're planning a move. I've been pursued, and I think everyone who lived in a home previously has been pursued for it, because I've seen their mail and received phone calls for them.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One small step for mankind...

    I keep asking why the FCC doesn't enforce all consumer protection laws and why Comcast Cable is allowed to globally block legitimate international e-mail being sent to U.S. Comcast customers and the FCC and FTC refuse to answer why.

    1. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      Re: One small step for mankind...

      AC "Comcast Cable is allowed to globally block legitimate international e-mail..."

      The first step away from your tech naivety is for you to make an effort segregate your ISP (Comcast) from your email provider.

      Anyone using their ISP as their email domain (Joe.Blow@Comcast.com) is deserving of any and all email problems they're experiencing.

      Once you switch to Gmail or Hotmail or whatever, then your email life will be better. And you'll have more freedom to quickly switch ISPs without being held hostage by your email address.

      It takes about two or three months to switch over, allowing time to get all your contacts and accounts switched.

      Get started now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: One small step for mankind...

        You DO know switching to one of them means you're beholden to Google, Microsoft, or whatever. At least with the ISP they hold the responsibility to keep your service up or face consequences for failure to deliver. Also, ISP mail providers frequently provide interfaces not dependent on browsers, so I can still use my dedicated e-mail client which doesn't have to kowtow to any of the big companies.

        1. JeffyPoooh
          Pint

          Re: One small step for mankind...

          AC "you're beholden to Google, Microsoft, or whatever."

          Then set-up your own email server with Raspberry Pi or similar. But you'd better disconnect from the Internet, because it you're that paranoid about gmail, there's so much worse to worry about. This is just opinion.

          "ISP mail providers frequently provide interfaces not dependent on browsers"

          You mean the POP3 & IMAP thingies? Essentially *all* the email providers provide those interfaces for your non-browser email client to use. *All* of them. This is demonstrable fact, that I would have thought that everybody would have known by now.

          Google: gmail pop3 OR hotmail pop3.

          Here's the summary. Those using their ISP as their email domain have a worse life, in all respects, than those that just use one of the non-ISP options. It affects every aspect of their life, right down to the amount of rain while they're on vacation. They've chained themselves to their ISP, and they end up posting rants like:

          "I keep asking why the FCC doesn't enforce all consumer protection laws and why Comcast Cable is allowed to globally block legitimate international e-mail being sent to U.S. Comcast customers and the FCC and FTC refuse to answer why."

          Why anyone would put themselves through this nonsense is beyond me...

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: One small step for mankind...

            Well, if an ISP can dictate how much rain I get on vacation, then Google and the like can count each individual raindrop. In which case, you're ALREADY under the Panopticon and all you can do is hunker down and bend over...or take the easy way out.

            Anyway, you're going to be beholden to an ISP no matter what. The "I" is the key part. Without an ISP, you have no Internet, and these days, being without Internet is like being without a phone or electricity today: you're basically cut off from civilization.

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