Google Knocks 'Ditch the Box' Set-Top Proposal

Representatives of Google Fiber and INCOMPAS (Google is a member) got on the phone with top aides to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to take aim at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's "ditch the box" apps-based alternative to the FCC's "unlock the box" proposal.

NCTA provided details on its proposal at the request of FCC staffers, which was what INCOMPAS and Google Fiber were reacting to.

That is according to an ex parte filing at the FCC.

Google, a backer of unlocking the box, and INCOMPAS told the FCC the cable proposal is lacking in four areas:

"(1) an open and independent user interface ('UI') to ensure innovation and access to new content; (2) at a minimum, equivalent functionality to that enjoyed and relied upon by consumers pursuant to the CableCARD regime; (3) device interoperability across all MVPDs; and (4) strong provisions to protect and enforce rights."

Among the issues they have are with search through the cable-proposed app-based approach. "The app proposal also seeks to limit search results provided on third-party devices to 'licensed content' to prevent presentation of pirated content. While well-intentioned, the app proposal would chill search usage and restrict users from searching the general Internet through their personal devices."

Google and content providers have long tussled over access to content versus abetting piracy, most notably in the SOPA/PIPA debate.

INCOMPAS is a member of the Consumer Video Choice Coalition, which has been pushing for the FCC proposal to require MVPDs to provide their content and data to third party device manufacturers and app developers as a way to promote a retail market for navigation devices to compete with those offered by cable companies via apps and leased boxes.

Google has long pushed for a universal gateway to unite traditional and over-the-top content in one device.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.