Industry Watch

Cable clusters: Cisco Systems, the global router, bridge, ATM switch and general internetworking technology company, wants to forge alliances with cable television.

The San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco has started the Cable/Information Technology Convergence Forum to get infotech vendors, cable TV companies and CableLabs, the research-and-development consortium for North American cable operators, together to talk about technology issues and ways to harmonically converge, so to speak. So far Apple Computer, Compaq, Digital, Bay Networks and LANCity have signed on.

Salary Cap, part I: Comsat Corp. of Bethesda, Md., has agreed to -- get this -- buy a Los Angeles film and TV production house, and build a sports and entertainment arena in Denver.

"Telecommunications and entertainment are merging," said Comsat's CEO Bruce Crockett. "These ventures put us on both sides of the convergence, and give us greater control of content."

Could this one day spell the end of regional TV blackouts on sporting events that don't sell out?

Golden Spike: At the end of October, Canada completed its longest electronic highway link across its prairies to the west coast, as MPR Teltech of Burnaby, B.C. and the Communications Research Center at Industry Canada -- sort of like the Commerce Department -- in Ottawa hooked up for a live videoconference over three test networks: B.C.'s Rnet, Wnet in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and OCRInet in the east.

That means ATM technology is up and running in a clear, coast-to-coast link across Canada.

The hookup was done through the National Test Network of the Canadian Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry and Education, which translates to a terrific acronym: CANARIE. Newbridge Networks built the ATM switches for the product.

Seizing the day: With some inaugural hoop-la about getting into the professional services business, long-distance biggie MCI has opened a new network management center in Arlington, Va., to assist its customers -- read, "perform telecommunications outsourcing work" -- in using the company's Hyperstream Frame-Relay network. One of its first customers is

NationsBank. And, yes, MCI actually offers business process re-engineering, too.

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