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Networking This Week: Broadband Pixie Dust and Service Provider Product Blitz

Service providers took center stage this week, with Cisco targeting a product blitz at them, some reporting on their quarterly profits, and a big buyout taking place. And in a return to the go-go 90s, there was some entertaining broadband "pixie dust," courtesy of Enron.

Early in the week, Cisco targeted service providers with a product blitz. In an attempt to capture a greater share of telecom and cable TV service providers spending, Cisco introduced new routers, upgrades to products and operating systems, and new interface options. And it reported that Sprint and Comcast have selected it to provide IP-based networking gear for the build-outs of their network.

Time Warner and Comcast, meanwhile, the two largest cable TV companies in the country, agreed to buy the assets of the bankrupt cable company Adelphia Communications Corp. in a deal valued at $17.6 billion in cash and stock.

The cable giants are targeting the U.S., but there are indications that for the big money, they'll have to look overseas --- specifically to Eastern Europe. A spate of deals has led analysts to say that there is more room for investors in Eastern Europe than in Western markets when it comes to telecom.

But service providers in the U.S. don't necessarily agree. They see growth, but not in the traditional places. MCI, for example, is moving aggressively into IP media delivery by making a deal to buy Interactive Content Factory (ICF), a leading provider of IP-based media and entertainment services. And Verizon Chief Ivan Seidenberg said his company plans to offer a mix of HDTV, IPTV and PVR services, including distributed networked video services to the home.

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