A big spike in sales was enough to give Arris the bragging rights for cable modem termination systems sales in North America during the fourth quarter, but longtime leader Cisco Systems Inc. held onto the title worldwide and for the full year 2003, according to Infonetics Research statistics released Friday.

The report indicated a healthy boost in MSO spending worldwide increased CMTS revenue 13 percent to total $126 million in the fourth quarter. Port shipments — which accounts for variations in CMTS capacity — also jumped 31 percent in the quarter.

Meanwhile, cable consumer premise equipment shipments totaled 4.3 million in the quarter, with revenue rising to $316 million. The leader in that segment is Motorola Broadband, which claims a lion's share of the revenue, followed by Ambit Broadband and Terayon Communication Systems Inc.

But the news wasn't entirely rosy. Worldwide CMTS revenue was flat for the year compared to 2002 because of steady price declines, according to Infonetics.

While Cisco did hold onto its CMTS revenue crown for the full year 2003, for the first time Arris overtook the networking giant in the North American market — which constitutes 64 percent of the total world market — during the fourth quarter. Cisco led in Europe, Central and Latin America and Asia Pacific during 2003, but its lead in the North American market has narrowed to a single percentage point.

For 2004, cable faces competition with digital subscriber line competitors for broadband revenue, according to Richard Webb, the report's lead analyst.

"Despite the pressure, cable CPE continues to grow," he notes, in a release. "MSOs are now pushing cable CPE with 802.11 and/or voice capabilities to attract new subscribers and upsell to existing customers. This will continue driving strong growth for cable IADs and cable routers with 802.11."