It seems like cable set-top boxes are on their way out of American homes. If the president has anything to say about it, of course. According to sources, which have opted to remain anonymous, U.S. President Barack Obama is allegedly set to announce his support for opening the market for cable set-top boxes on Friday.
The president's stance on the issue was allegedly sent to federal regulators in a letter on Thursday night, which, according to the sources, emphasized the president's initiatives to enhance competition in the otherwise monopolized market of cable TV.
With Obama's support, the Federal Communications Commission, which has so far taken the lead in attempting to crack the market for TV set-top boxes, would have a far stronger backer than it has ever had before. After all, the cable set-top boxes market, which is practically monopolized by a handful of large firms, is worth billions of dollars a year, with the average American family spending about $200 a year to rent their cable boxes from a provider.
For Obama, the sheer presence of cable boxes in U.S. homes is a prominent symbol of corporate power over consumers. After all, with the advancement of technology, the cable boxes have become quite outdated and extremely expensive to lease. By opening the market for cable set-top TV boxes, other manufacturers, who could offer consumers more advanced devices at lower prices, could very well force the hand of prominent cable and satellite TV companies to make their prices more competitive.
Jason Furman, the chairman of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, and Jeffrey D. Zients, the director of the National Economic Council, described the president's emphasis on the issue.
"Instead of spending nearly $1,000 over four years on a set of behind-the-times boxes, American families will have options to own a device for much less money that will integrate everything they want, including their cable or satellite content, as well as online streaming apps, in one, easier-to-use gadget," they wrote.
Furman and Zients further compared the aged set-top boxes to the rotary phone, which used to be rented by customers as a condition of service during the 1980s. After the FCC moved to open the telephone industry to competition, the functionality, style and most of all, the price of the phones significantly improved.
Obama's initiative is allegedly being backed by notable tech firms, such as Google, Apple and Amazon. If successful, the era of the ubiquitous cable TV set-top boxes might very well come to a definitive close.