FCC wants set-top boxes to be Internet gateway

In the set-top box market, most consumers lease the boxes from their cable or pay-TV provider rather than buying one at retail. That's partly because technology changes quite rapidly, so consumers aren't willing to shell out $500 for another box every 18 months.

But the FCC envisions a wide range of boxes that allow consumers to have two-way communication with their providers and the broadband networks.

One option the FCC is considering is requiring cable and broadband providers--Comcast, AT&T, Verizon--to offer small, inexpensive devices that can bridge together cable boxes and Internet modems.

In theory, this could unleash an array of new Internet applications for TV. For example, imagine a Pandora-like service for TV shows that could recommend shows you may like based on what you're currently watching.