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Carriers Show Tough Love For Cisco, CRS-1

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Cisco Systems attracted a lot of attention with the launch of its new carrier-class router Tuesday, but it's going to take some time before service providers start writing checks for the gear.

That carrier representatives who were part of Cisco's gala event here Tuesday were lukewarm toward the new CRS-1 was evidence that the networking giant is still at the first-date phase of its relationship with major service-provider customers.

Of the four carriers present Tuesday, only Sprint would even make a cautious commitment to future purchases of the CRS-1, a system whose price tag could easily reach into the millions of dollars per machine. And according to Kathy Walker, executive vice president for Sprint's network services, it may take the better part of a year for Sprint to find a place where the CRS-1 can contribute to Sprint's bottom line.

"If it lets me free up some of the routers I have in place today, that might be a reason to deploy [the CRS-1]," Walker said. "But I also have to look at the operating expenses. How much is it going to cost me to maintain it, and to train my people on a new interface?"

Both Sprint's Walker and MCI Fellow John Fee said that while Cisco's innovations were new to Cisco, some of the attributes of the CRS-1 have been standard in telco gear used in backbone and core networks.

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