The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has failed to aid consumers by creating the competitive market for set-top boxes Congress envisioned in the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Public Knowledge Legal Director Harold Feld said.
Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, Feld said, “the FCC has failed to create the competitive market Congress directed.” The result, Feld said, is that customers for cable, satellite and telephone-provided video services still must rent their set-top boxes from those companies and can’t easily take advantage of a more competitive market for devices like digital video recorders (DVRs).
The written testimony is here.
Feld, who testified on behalf of Public Knowledge, Media Access Project and Consumers Union, said he was pleased that the FCC’s National Broadband Plan recognized the importance of a competitive set-top box market as a connection to the Internet and would help achieve the goal of universal broadband. Until now, however, the FCC has produced only temporary solutions that don’t take advantage of the real capabilities of video networks and which apply only to cable and not to other carriers such as satellite or services provided by telephone companies.
The consumer groups have asked the FCC to require a “video gateway,” which would provide uniform connectivity for set-top boxes, much as the jack in a wall provides a universal connection for a telephone, Feld said.
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