Comcast unveils plan to ditch the cable box; FCC hints it's not good enough
Last week, President Obama added his support to the Federal Communications Commission's recent edict calling for standardized cable-box compatibility. If that moves to the point of actual regulation, it could mean true cable-ready TVs or TiVo-like boxes that work seamlessly with any cable system -- instead of having to rent a proprietary box from the cable guy in perpetuity. And devices would be able to access rival Web-based content providers like Netflix, too. There'd be no more toggling to that secondary HDMI input.
Enter Comcast. The nation's largest cable provider said Wednesday that it is offering its Xfinity suite of cable TV offerings -- live TV, on-demand, channel listings and even cloud-based DVR services -- to third-party partners. Two of the industry's biggest names are first on the docket: Samsung smart TVs and Roku streaming devices. Apps for both are expected "later this year," Comcast said. Xfinity apps for mobile devices based on Android and iOS software have long been available.
Built-in apps instead of clunky old cable boxes? Indeed, Comcast rival (and one-time merger target) Time Warner Cable already has a similar app on Roku and mobile platforms for its customers. But apparently, this Comcast olive branch isn't quite good enough for the FCC.