This would be great: Intel reps paid a visit to the FCC to lobby for making ethernet ports a requirement in new set-top boxes, meaning every set-top box would be IP capable. So connectivity like the cable industry's tru2way dealio and home networking would go from bustable industry pact to government mandate. Odds of this happening? Well, there is a precedent like this, and FCC Chairmain Kevin Martin does enjoy stabbing the cable industry in the balls with burning pokers of openness, but nothing's certain. [Ars]
Yes, because the FCC mandate for Firewire really broke open the industry.
Just because the port is required does not mean that they have to provide any sort of means for communication between the box and anything else known to man... I could see Cox rolling out DVRs with fully functional ethernet ports, and no networking support in the DVR OS.