TiMetra, which was acquired by Alcatel in 2003, not only addressed one of networking's big problems, but it came just as Cisco customer AT&T ( T) was looking for a way to cram TV into the Internet pipe it calls its U-verse service.TiMetra was huge, says Shin Umeda router analyst at Dell'Oro Group, a market research shop. "They had the right product along with new service capabilities like IPTV." Alcatel proceeded to build on that win, adding more and more of Cisco's customers. In 2009, Cisco lost 8 percentage points of market share in edge routing, and in the most recent quarter, Cisco lost 5 percentage points, according to Dell'Oro. "This is quite threatening to Cisco," says Umeda. "Alcatel is making a lot of gains in accounts dominated by Cisco." Cisco has high hopes that its new ASR 9000 edge router can help recapture some lost ground. A Cisco representative said the ASR 9000 was "gaining strong market traction with tier-one service providers." The ASR 9000 could get Cisco back in the game, says Dell'Oro's Umeda, but "sales have been slow to ramp, and Cisco is still losing ground." Cisco's Air Attack But what Cisco has been lacking in innovation it has been making up for in hustle. A sprawling company to run with 90 sales office worldwide, you would think Cisco's energetic chief John Chambers would be too busy to drop everything and jet in to help win a sale. But no, Chambers has become known as the closer-in-chief, the big gun Cisco frequently uses whenever a big sale is in the cross-hairs, according to two industry sources. Chambers is so famously on call -- so ready to jump in his plane -- that competitors use it as an inspiration, a "bring it on" showdown as they get deals to the closing stage. According to one rival, when a deal is nearing, his sales team would say -- with provocative delight -- "let's make Chambers fly." Cisco declined to comment. Who knows -- maybe making house calls is how deals get done in tech. And while it isn't exactly a shock to hear that Chambers is ready in the bullpen to come in and close a sale, it does suggest that Cisco's not winning business on the merits of its technology. Critics may say Cisco lost its way in tech innovation, but it still has an edge in the sales department. --Written by Scott Moritz in New York. >To contact this writer, click here: Scott Moritz, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. To follow Scott on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/MoritzDispatch. >To send a tip, email: email@example.com.