updated 5/25/2004 3:42:31 AM ET 2004-05-25T07:42:31

Cisco Systems Inc. unveiled a long-awaited router for directing traffic at the heart of the Internet, aiming to recapture market share lost to rivals.

Cisco’s refrigerator-sized Carrier Router System-1, announced Tuesday and expected to be available in July, is designed to shuttle data at the center of telecom carriers’ networks. It’s been in the works for four years, but development has been kept secret.

A single CRS-1 can transfer the entire collection of the U.S. Library of Congress in 4.6 seconds, according to Cisco. And unlike the company’s previous high-end routers, multiple units can be clustered to act as a single, massive router.

San Jose-based Cisco has been losing share in the high-end “core” routing market, UBS analyst Nikos Theodosopoulos said in a research report released Monday.

In the second quarter of 2002, when Juniper Networks Inc. released its T640 core router, Cisco had 68 percent of the market to Juniper’s 24 percent. By the first quarter of this year, Cisco’s lead had shrunk to 59 percent while Juniper’s grew to 34 percent, Theodosopoulos said.

Cisco last announced a new core router in 1997, though the 12000 Series has undergone significant upgrades since then.

Cisco also is launching a new version of its router operating system, designed specifically for the CRS-1, to allow upgrades without service disruption and to improve security.

In its basic setup, the CRS-1 costs about $450,000. More advanced configurations will cost millions of dollars, said Mike Volpi, general manager of Cisco’s Routing Technology Group.

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