Cisco Systems Inc has signed Sony Corp as a partner in its drive to dominate the cable network industry. Cisco is developing the reference design and network software that Sony will use to build its planned series of cable modems. Cisco’s DOCSIS Data-Over- Cable Service Interface Specification, which the company is hoping to bill as an industry standard, has already won support from Intel Corp, Hayes Microcomputer Products Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Thomson Computer Electronics (CI No 3,251, 3,273). The advantage to Cisco is that it gets an early start on the design, building and marketing of of DOCSIS – compliant cable head ends – the equipment that transmits and receives data across a cable network. The standard is managed by a venture of the four major cable companies called Multimedia Cable Network System Partners Ltd, and tested by their collaborative research arm, Cable Television Labs Inc. Other data networking players are currently notably absent from the process, including 3Com Corp, Bay Networks Inc, and NextLevel Systems Inc.