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Gigabit

Cisco Spends Big for Triple-Play

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) makes a nice penny arming its broadband service provider customers, like Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), with equipment and other infrastructure to deliver so-called triple-play services. This time, however, it seems the networking giant may have consumed too much of its own industry Kool-Aid.

On Tuesday, Cisco announced plans to enable the triple-play by unveiling a partnership with the American League's Oakland A's. (See Cisco & Cracker Jack.) Thank goodness there is no quad-play in baseball. In that game, at least, three outs still means you're done.

Cisco will pay $120 million over 30 years to play ball with the A's and is selling 143 acres in Fremont to the team to serve as the site of the new Cisco Field. As one might expect, Oakland fans are fuming about the move down to Silicon Valley. (See "Oakland fans cry foul over team's departure.") Besides driving another 25 miles down I-880, fans without stock options reckon that they'll have a tough time affording tickets in a venue targeted toward the technorati.

Ready? Here's the pitch from the news release: The A's will outfit the stadium with Cisco solutions to create "the world's most technologically sophisticated baseball park." Those could prove to be fightin' words for the Tokyo Dome, home of the Yomiuri Giants.

Cisco gleefully explains:

    Cisco Field, when completed, will be a state-of-the-art technology showcase featuring an integrated IP network built on Cisco technology, and will be the platform for a multitude of applications that will take the fans' experience to the next level. For example, digital signs could ensure "smart" traffic flow; fans could purchase merchandise or concessions while in their seat by ordering from a mobile device, as well as onsite ticket kiosks to enable fans to upgrade seats in real-time. Luxury suites will have the opportunity to include multi-media amenities for premium video content.


How exciting! Unless you were hoping that a night at the ballpark would offer a needed break from the techno-frenetic work day...

Speaking of Comcast, Fremont is smack in the heart of the cable operator's Bay area service territory. Will Cisco prominently feature its largest MSO customer at Cisco Field, or will it use the venue as a carrot to court business from AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)?

Either way, one of them will balk.

— Michael Harris, Chief Analyst, Cable Digital News

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