Could Comcast be the big winner from Cisco’s purchase of S-A? That was among the more interesting takes we saw, from The Diffusion Group. The reasoning? Wanting to rid itself of the S-A/Motorola duopoly, Comcast started working with other vendors. It leased fiber backbones through an agreement with Level 3; worked on an IP-based digital set-top; paid Gemstar $250mln for an EPG license; and bought low-end set-top middleware software assets from Liberate. "By opening the interfaces of its network and relying on standard networking components, new vendors (other than Motorola and S-A) would enter the competitive fray, thus reducing prices," Diffusion says. "The real winner is Brian Roberts and Comcast, as well as the cable industry in general."

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