Cisco (CSCO) - Get Report kicked off its three-day analyst extravaganza by announcing some good news from Japan.

The San Jose, Calif., computer networking giant added telecom gearmaker


to its list of sales partners. More important, though, the company said a


unit was among the first paying customers for Cisco's eagerly anticipated, long-delayed mega router.

SoftBank BB, a broadband service unit of Tokyo venture capital giant Softbank, agreed to buy Cisco's CRS-1 router. The news comes as Cisco tries to win back market share in sales of the Internet traffic sorting devices from upstart rival


(JNPR) - Get Report

. Cisco is an investment partner with Softbank, having invested $1 billion in the Japanese venture capital fund in January 2001.

The announcements come as Cisco is hosting a three-day analyst conference, featuring a keynote address from CEO John Chambers scheduled for 11:15 a.m. EST Tuesday.

Cisco also named a pair of other CRS-1 customers, Japan's National Institute for Informatics and at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. Analysts say Cisco now has four paying customers for the CRS-1, and 14 companies are using the router on a trial basis. Among those is

Telecom Italia


, Cisco says.

Cisco was late with its mega router, which it introduced after several delays in May. Now, six months later, Cisco says it finally has a few paying customers for the massive Internet traffic sorter.

But Juniper has beaten Cisco to the market with a big core router of its own. The lead has helped Juniper increase its router business at Cisco's expense. In the third quarter ended in September, Juniper gained 5 percentage points, taking its market share to 38%. During that same period, Cisco saw its share of the market fall to 62% from 67%.

Juniper also has been

aggressive with discounts to help win customers like the


unit of

Time Warner


away from Cisco.

Cisco shares rose 8 cents to $19.51 and Juniper was up 29 cents to $28.83 in early trading Monday.