Today, Golden Frog Co-Founder Ron Yokubaitis spoke at the Austin Technology Council’s roundtable on “Consumer Access, Content Competition, and the Cable Set Top Box Bottleneck: The final pro-innovation debate of the Obama Administration.” The panel brought together thought leaders in the space, including Gigi Sohn, Counselor to FCC Chair Tom Wheeler and Barbary Brunner, CEO of the Austin Technology Council.
The roundtable centered on the United States FCC’s recent proposal to boost set-top box competition, enabling consumers to “swap pricey cable boxes for cheaper devices and apps.” This change would increase competition in the tv set-top box market, but could be a “blow” to large telecoms (for example Comcast and Verizon). With the new proposal, users could obtain set top boxes from other providers rather than being locked into the box provided by their cable company. 99% of US customers currently are required to get set top boxes from their cable companies, but these new rules would give consumers additional choice in providers and allow them to save money.
At Golden Frog we believe strongly in an Open Internet, and that competition and innovation are essential in the market. In regards to the cable set top box issue, we believe in customer choice and are in favor of the FCC’s proposal. Consumers should have a choice in which equipment they use and how they access the Internet, and should not be forced to purchase a set top box from their cable company but rather have the freedom to choose their device. Further, there should be freedom from discrimination against video applications that currently exists; consumers should be able to add applications and browse across platforms as they choose.
Our Main Points
Ron focused on the following during the panel, citing the importance of:
- Customer choice
- Open networks, regardless of technology or regulatory silo
- Privacy protection
- Leveraging technology to bring prices closer to those in a truly competitive market
- No forced tying of two products, so users don’t have to buy both from the same source (IE: separate the box from the cable company)
Get Involved: Submit your Comments to the FCC
You can submit your comments on the FCC’s proposal to let them know what you think. Visit this link http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/hotdocket/list and select from the two related proceedings:
- 16-42, Expanding Consumers’ Video Navigation Choices
- 97-80, Implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Commercial availability of navigation devices
- 16-106 Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services
You can also use the formal comments link to attach your comments for upload. If using this feature, please be sure to insert the proceeding numbers (above) when you fill out.