Friday, February 11, 2011, 10:24 AM ET|Posted by Will RichmondSpeaking of set-top boxes, the cable industry, through its NCTA lobbying arm, was skirmishing this week on yet another regulatory front, the FCC's ongoing "AllVid" inquiry, which would possibly crack open the customer premise equipment (CPE) by establishing an IP-based standard. Google, Sony and other CE companies are lobbying for AllVid as a way of streamlining delivery of over-the-top content into living rooms. Cable operators are arguing that such a move would compromise existing network licensing models. A more overarching concern is that a regulatory mandated approach would significantly level the playing field for new entrants to compete for consumers' attention.
The reality is that the market is already driving toward an AllVid-like approach as more set-top boxes that can receive IP video gain market share and new entrants like Roku, Apple TV and other connected devices are helping drive change in consumer attitudes (see Cisco's woes above). As with its net neutrality initiative, the FCC is surely tempted by AllVid as a seemingly consumer-friendly pursuit. Yet the cable community makes a valid point that the FCC shouldn't be mandating technology approaches; the market is very dynamic and any regulatory intervention is likely to be out-of-date as soon as it's issued.