The announcement, which is expected Thursday, will showcase a technology dubbed Intercast--a hybrid term for Internet and broadcast--that will let viewers watch NBC news programs on one part of the screen while browsing Web sites and other online information on another.
Other companies are likely to follow with similar technology and related products, especially after a favorable ruling by the Federal Communications Commission announced today that will allow broadcasters to provide Internet usage alongside TV programs on the same screen.
Regular television transmissions are sent by airwave signals. Under the new policy, TV broadcasters will also be able to get substantially greater access to digital data streams used for the Internet that travel over telephone, cable, and other lines of communications.
The FCC decision, three years in the making, will allow wide use of digital technology such as Intercast, which until now has been been limited to such applications as closed captions and stock tickers that run across the bottom of the TV screen during broadcasts. The ruling will likely hasten the development of technology and products geared toward the much-anticipated merging of the television and the computer.
The FCC said in a statement that the new policy will "help broadcasters' transition to digital TV by providing them with experience in digital data transmission and a means of earning station revenue that could be used to develop and implement digital TV facilities."
Intel's Internet Technology Lab, which developed its own technology for this transition, has been testing it with home PC users, the chip maker said. Other businesses, such as wireless data company WavePhore, are reportedly negotiating with the major broadcast networks about streaming data within their broadcast signals.
But Intel seems to be ahead of its competitors, at least for now. Major PC vendors such as such as Compaq and Packard-Bell are expected to bring out consumer PCs this year or early next year that support Intercast.
PCs equipped to support Intercast require special hardware to receive the TV broadcast, in the form of a circuit board, as well as Intercast software. A modem is also necessary to browse data and Web pages that are not part of the broadcast.
Intercast is an integral part of Intel's strategy of moving aggressively on Internet technology and supplying an increasing amount of hardware for consumer PCs.